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Jonathan Parr, MD

Jonathan Parr, MD, MPH, assistant professor in the division of infectious diseases, was interviewed for an article in The Scientist about the development of CRISPR diagnostics.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers have been striving to develop low-cost tests to detect the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in patient samples. Now, a team of researchers based at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute and MIT have unveiled a quick and inexpensive testing platform capable of distinguishing between major SARS-CoV-2 variants, according to a paper published in Science Advances.

Parr said one major limitation of the current study is that the platform miSHERLOCK was only tested on 27 clinical samples in an email to The Scientist.  Parr develops CRISPR-based diagnostics for malaria but was not involved with the current study. The sample donors were all COVID-19 patients from the Dominican Republic and none were infected with variants of concern, he adds. While the authors acknowledge the paucity of clinical samples in their paper, Parr says “it raises concerns about the ‘real world’ performance of their assay nonetheless.”

Read the article.