Journal Club: Super-Scaling COVID-19 Testing with DNA Sequencing

Sri Kosuri, Valerie Arboleda, and Lauren Richardson

Posted October 15, 2020

There is a wide range of diagnostic tests for COVID-19 that are all well suited for determining whether an individual patient is sick with the virus. But to safely reopen society in the absence of a vaccine, we need tests that can be given broadly across a population, including to people who are asymptomatic. Many of these existing tests cannot be administered at this grand scale. That is where SwabSeq comes in. SwabSeq is an open source COVID-19 diagnostic platform that leverages the power of genomics to vastly increase the scale of testing.

On this episode of the Bio Eats World Journal Club, host Lauren Richardson discusses the pre-print article “Swab-Seq: A high-throughput platform for massively scaled up SARS-CoV-2 testing” with two of the authors, Sri Kosuri of Octant  and Valerie Arboleda of UCLA. The original concept and design of this sequencing based approach was developed at Octant (a drug discovery startup co-founded by Kosuri, who is also a professor at UCLA), and the conversation covers the origins of of the method, why they decided to develop the test as an open source project and how sequencing increases scalability. Kosuri, Arboleda, and a team at UCLA built SwabSeq into a validated diagnostic platform that recently received an Emergency Use Authorization from the Food and Drug Administration.