simplSEQ, the company dedicated to simplifying the genomic sequencing workflow process, has turned its attention to the Coronavirus pandemic. Brandon Young, the CTO and Lab Director of simplSEQ, has joined a group of scientists and engineers from around the world to build a new model for testing called RuleOut (https://ruleout.org/) that would decentralize testing.
“We don’t want to reinvent the wheel,” stated Young. “There are literally thousands of PCR machines in academic and research labs that are sitting idle with the current lockdown. We have developed a way to put this critical equipment to use.”
Most tests use a “rule in” approach: a positive result confirms a patient has the disease. These conventional tests are challenging to implement and have logistical and supply chain constraints. If any part of the kit is unavailable, or if the instructions cannot be exactly followed, testing cannot be performed.
Additionally, these tests require specific instrumentation and have defined training or state licensing requirements for personnel running the tests. The RuleOut group wants to instead create a quick “rule out” screening process.
RuleOut.org has created a novel decentralized approach that can exponentially increase COVID-19 testing capacity. Utilizing existing equipment and highly trained personnel from non-conventional academic and research labs across the U.S, this decentralized model draws on instruments and reagents from outside the strained supply chain to set up rule-out testing for underserved populations.
If all the available equipment were to become operational under the model developed by the group, they anticipate that as many as 7 million tests per day could be performed around the United States. That is a magnitude more than have been performed since the beginning of the pandemic.
“We are all contributing towards this effort on a volunteer basis. We are looking for collaborators who share our vision and want to ramp up testing so that we can get everyone back to work,” Young concluded. “We have a whitepaper on our site and a Slack channel that people can join if they want to contribute to the cause.”
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