Twist Bioscience launches research panel for screening COVID-19, other respiratory viruses

Synthetic DNA manufacturer Twist Bioscience launched a new research panel focused on identifying respiratory diseases, including the novel coronavirus behind the COVID-19 pandemic.

Using a next-generation sequencing approach, the panel can detect a range of coronaviruses as well as rhinoviruses, adenoviruses, enteroviruses, respiratory syncytial virus and different strains of influenza in one sample—29 common human respiratory viruses in all.

“The symptoms of COVID-19 are extremely varied, in many cases mimicking a number of other common illnesses including influenza, adenovirus infections or even the common cold,” said Twist’s co-founder and CEO, Emily Leproust, Ph.D. 

“By offering a comprehensive respiratory panel with the ability to detect and characterize a wide range of viruses, this assay provides an important tool that fits within multiple workflows to appropriately identify and research the underlying virus causing the infection or co-infection,” Leproust said. 

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Though not a clinical diagnostic test itself, the research use only panel can be used to help “surveil populations for early signs of outbreak, viral transmission and evolution to enhance public health response,” she added, including both DNA- and RNA-based viruses in one kit.

Earlier this month, Twist expanded its offering of synthetic SARS-CoV-2 RNA controls used to help develop and validate coronavirus diagnostic tests. These include four new variants of the novel coronavirus’s genetic material, including mutations seen in different geographic regions.