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Jessica Lin, MD, MSCR
Jessica Lin, MD MSCR

CRISPR-based diagnostics are a new class of highly sensitive and specific assays with multiple applications in infectious disease diagnosis. SHERLOCK, or Specific High-Sensitivity Enzymatic Reporter UnLOCKing, is one such CRISPR-based diagnostic that combines recombinase polymerase pre-amplification, CRISPR-RNA base-pairing, and LwCas13a activity for nucleic acid detection.

Researchers from the division of infectious diseases recently developed SHERLOCK assays capable of detecting all Plasmodium species known to cause human malaria and species-specific detection of P. vivax and P. falciparum, the species responsible for the majority of malaria cases worldwide. The research team tested these assays using a diverse panel of clinical samples from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, and Thailand and pools of Anopheles mosquitoes from Thailand. In addition, they developed a prototype SHERLOCK assay capable of detecting the dihydropteroate synthetase (dhps) single nucleotide variant A581G associated with P. falciparum sulfadoxine resistance.

Results showed novel SHERLOCK assays demonstrate the versatility of CRISPR-based diagnostics and their potential as a new generation of molecular tools for malaria diagnosis and surveillance.

The study was published in EBioMedicine.  Authors from the UNC Department of Medicine included Jessica Lin, MD, Ross Boyce, MD, Jonathan Juliano, MD, and Jonathan Parr, PhD.