The SARS-CoV-2 panel by Agena Bioscience®: Improved FAST cycling protocols allows for doubling the throughput

Globally COVID-19 has infected over 28 million people and over 900,000 people have passed away. Many countries have limited the mobility of their residents and are looking for ways to increase testing options to contain the virus and open their country. To assist in this effort, Agena Bioscience® has developed a genotyping panel for the detection of the SARS-CoV-2 virus on the MassARRAY® System. This panel provides a robust option to test for the presence of SARS- CoV-2 virus in human samples. The single well panel utilizes RNA extraction and a one-step RT-PCR reaction to reverse transcribe viral RNA into cDNA and amplify the nucleic acid material in the same reaction1. This biochemistry is shown to work robustly with an input containing as few as 0.3-0.4 genome copy number equivalents (GCE) of the SARS-CoV-2 virus per μl (300-400 GCE/ml) of matrix tested. The high-throughput MassARRAY System enables laboratories to process up to 6,122 samples per day with a single instrument. The panel has been tested with the 96 and 384 plate format CPM instruments as well as with the RS1000 spotting device. This case study describes improvements in the biochemistry workflow of the iPLEX® Pro-based SARS-CoV-2 panel to reduce the time to result and increase the sample throughput and thus increase testing capacity to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The FAST optimizations of the biochemistry workflow allows a reduction of 3 hours in workflow and thus increases throughput per day with the same amplification equipment.