Twist Bioscience begins shipping of synthetic RNA controls for UK variant strain of SARS-CoV-2

RNA controls can help avoid false negative results

10 Feb 2021
Diane Li
Assistant Editor

Twist Bioscience Corporation, a company enabling customers to succeed through its offering of high-quality synthetic DNA using its silicon platform, has announced that it has started shipping its new synthetic RNA reference controls, which include the new variant strain of SARS-CoV-2 identified in the United Kingdom. With this new strain (B1.1.7 lineage, variant under investigation VUI-202012/01), which contains multiple mutations in the spike protein and other areas of the viral genome, some of the RT-PCR probes used widely in COVID-19 testing no longer detect the S gene that codes for the spike protein. This can lead to false-negative test results.

“By offering synthetic controls for this specific mutation, our customers are able to update their testing protocols, which will help to potentially avoid false negative results when testing for SARS-CoV-2 infection,” said Emily M. Leproust, Ph.D., CEO and co-founder of Twist Bioscience. “These controls, used alone or in conjunction with our SARS-CoV-2 NGS RUO Assay to identify all SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid sequences, are invaluable research tools for monitoring viral evolution and for population-scale surveillance.”

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. Twist has subsequently released additional SARS-CoV-2 controls to cover the evolution of the virus, and remains committed to using its DNA synthesis platform to offer valuable products that improve health and sustainability.

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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