Twist Bioscience to Offer Synthetic RNA Control for UK Variant Strain of SARS-CoV-2

IndustryPRwire -- Twist Bioscience announced plans to offer a new synthetic RNA control that includes the new variant of SARS-CoV-2 circulating in the United Kingdom and South Africa. This new variant strain of SARS-CoV-2 contains multiple spike protein mutations as well as mutations in other areas of the viral genome.

According to the European Centers for Disease Control, preliminary analysis in the UK suggests that this variant is significantly more transmissible than previously circulating variants, with an estimated increased transmissibility of up to 70 percent. The newly identified strain is known as the B1.1.7 lineage, variant under investigation VUI-202012/01, and does not appear to be more deadly than prior strains of SARS-CoV-2. With this new strain, some of the RT-PCR probes used widely in COVID-19 testing no longer detect the S gene that codes for the spike protein in SARS-CoV-2.

“With SARS-CoV-2 moving quickly throughout countries and regions, at Twist we remain vigilant in identifying ways we can support in the fight against the pandemic,” said Emily M. Leproust, Ph.D., CEO and co-founder of Twist Bioscience. “With sequence data available for this new rapidly spreading strain only recently, we quickly leveraged our synthesis platform to begin the process of offering synthetic controls for this specific mutation so our customers can implement any needed changes in their testing protocols and development objectives. We believe that now more than ever, we must continue to respond rapidly, bringing our expertise and tools to the fore in the fight against COVID-19.”

In March, Twist launched synthetic SARS-CoV-2 RNA distinct reference sequences as positive controls for the development of both next-generation sequencing (NGS) and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assays to test for SARS-CoV-2. These controls continue to be included in many different assays worldwide and can be used to determine the limit of detection, monitor day-to-day test variations and are included on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website as reference materials for SARS-CoV-2. In June, additional SARS-CoV-2 controls were released to cover the evolution of the virus.

The Twist synthetic controls are designed based on specific SARS-CoV-2 variants, cover the full viral genome and are sequence-verified. For customers interested in alternative variants of SARS-CoV-2, Twist can provide custom controls and offers a suite of research tools including next-generation sequencing (NGS) products for SARS-CoV-2 as well as a broad respiratory panel and the most comprehensive viral panel.

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