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Enabling Widespread COVID-19 Testing via High-Throughput Proteomics Detection

Status: 
Active
Competition: 
COVID-19 Regional Genomics Initiative
Sector: 
Health
Genome Centre(s):
Genome Alberta
Project Leader(s):
Ian A. Lewis (University of Calgary), Daniel Gregson (University of Calgary)
GE3LS: 
No
Fiscal Year Project Launched: 
2020-2021
Project Description: 

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a global medical and economic crisis. Laboratory testing capacity has played a pivotal role in our national response to this emergency. More than 100,000 COVID-19 tests have been administered in Alberta alone, and more than 2,000 additional assays are performed each day. Although we may soon be reaching the peak of the pandemic, passing this barrier will not reduce our testing needs. With the eventual relaxation of social distancing measures, widespread community testing for COVID-19 will be critical to enable people to return to work while safeguarding against a second wave of infections. This shift from targeted, clinically-oriented testing, to widespread high-throughput community testing, may dramatically increase the need for affordable COVID-19 tests. Unfortunately, Canada has limited ability to increase its testing capacity due to chronic supply chain shortages that restricted the availability of the key testing reagents. Although many new assays are coming online, most of the existing and emerging diagnostic tests work by detecting the SARS-CoV-2 genetic material and ultimately will suffer from the same supply chain limitations. To address this, our research team is developing an alternative proteomics-based assay for detecting the virus directly from nasal swabs. Our proteomics strategy does not require any specialized supplies and could enable up to 1,000 tests per day per instrument.