UCLA SwabSeq funded by BARDA

UCLA funded by Barda
July 22, 2022

By UCLA | Computational Medicine Department

UCLA SwabSeq funded by BARDA to develop “agnostic” virus test.

Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA)’s Division of Research, Innovation and Ventures (DRIVe) is collaborating with multiple industries and academic partners, including the University of California, Los Angeles, to advance the ability to quickly respond to public health emergencies with a new diagnostic capability that covers all existing and new respiratory RNA viruses in a single test. Partners will optimize their in-house NGS capabilities for commercial clinical use, including by lowering the sample-to-result time to under 24 hours, reducing interference from host RNA, and performing analytical validation of the platform using both contrived and clinical respiratory samples.

DRIVe is funding the UCLA SwabSeq Laboratory to adapt SwabSeq technology in order to develop scalable sequencing approaches for the detection of novel pathogens. Currently, SwabSeq technology amplifies a portion of the SARS-CoV-2 genome in order to detect the virus.  With this approach, SwabSeq can accurately detect SARS-Cov-2, but is unable to detect other viruses.  This project will extend the SwabSeq technology to develop an “agnostic” test.  In this approach, instead of amplifying a specific virus, human RNA is instead depleted in the sample and the remaining RNA is sequenced.  This approach has the potential to identify any RNA virus including new and emerging pathogens.

The University of California, Los Angeles’s (UCLA) SwabSeq Laboratory is a new CLIA-certified laboratory created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting in April 2020, genomic and computational scientists at UCLA developed a new technology based on next-generation sequencing—the SwabSeq COVID-19 Diagnostic Platform—which obtained FDA EUA approval and was deployed within 6 months. In 2021, the UCLA SwabSeq Laboratory was awarded a contract from NIH's Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) program to leverage automation to expand the lab’s capacity. Since deployment, the UCLA SwabSeq Laboratory has processed over 1,500,000 COVID-19 tests, providing high-throughput low-cost testing to multiple universities, local schools, and other partners.  The UCLA SwabSeq Laboratory is housed in the UCLA Department of Computational Medicine.

More details are available here.