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25 September 2020

Evaluation of LamPORE rapid tests for Covid-19 show high levels of diagnostic sensitivity

Researchers from our Trust have worked with colleagues at Public Health England Porton Down, the University of Sheffield and the University of Oxford to evaluate a novel diagnostic platform for rapid detection of Covid-19, with early findings showing high levels of diagnostic sensitivity.

Scientists from the University of Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Medicine have today published their evaluation of LamPORE, a novel diagnostic platform for detecting SARS-CoV-2 RNA. It combines loop-mediated isothermal amplification with nanopore sequencing. This technology has the potential to analyse thousands of samples per day on a single instrument.

The collaboration between colleagues at Public Health England Porton Down (PHE),  Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the University of Sheffield and the University of Oxford including support from the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, evaluated the performance of LamPORE against RT-PCR - the most commonly-used laboratory test for Covid-19.

They used RNA extracted from two types of samples. Initially, mock samples formed of saliva from people without infection that had a known quantity of virus added to it, and subsequently nose and throat swabs from real Covid-19 patients collected during routine care at two UK hospitals - Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

The positive clinical specimens came mostly from patients with symptomatic infection, and among these LamPORE had a diagnostic sensitivity of 99.1% (i.e. it was positive in 226 of 228 samples positive by RT-PCR). Among negative clinical specimens, including 153 with other respiratory pathogens detected, LamPORE had a diagnostic specificity of 99.6% (i.e. it was negative in 278 of 279 samples negative by RT-PCR). Overall, 1.4% of samples produced an indeterminate result on first testing, and repeat LamPORE testing on the same RNA extract had a reproducibility of 96.8%.

These results indicate that LamPORE has a similar performance to RT-PCR for the diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection in symptomatic patients.

Dr Cariad Evans, Consultant Virologist at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and joint senior author of the published evaluation, said: ’We are pleased to have contributed to this important evaluation. These are encouraging early findings and we are proud to have supported Public Health England and our academic partners in this essential Covid-19 research.’

Professor Derrick Crook, from the Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, who led the evaluation, said: ‘This evaluation shows that LamPORE offers a promising approach to high-throughput testing.’

Dr Steve Pullan, from Public Health England, Porton Down, said: ‘Our early data indicates LamPORE to be a credible alternative to conventional PCR -based diagnostics, which has the potential to provide further high-throughput testing capacity.’

Prof Helen McShane, Director of the NIHR Oxford BRC, said: ‘Oxford’s expertise in clinical microbiology and pathogen sequencing has been combined with state-of-the-art sequencing technology from Oxford Nanopore to generate this really important data. This is an excellent example of how NIHR funding to support academic–industrial collaborations can lead to the development of new tools to help us control the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.’


Read the full paper on the pre-print server, medrxiv here:

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