Bio-SCAN: A CRISPR/dCas9-Based Lateral Flow Assay for Rapid, Specific, and Sensitive Detection of SARS-CoV-2

Zahir Ali, Edith Sánchez, Muhammad Tehseen, Ahmed Mahas, Tin Marsic, Rashid Aman, Gundra Sivakrishna Rao, Fatimah Saeed Alhamlan, Madain S. Alsanea, Ahmed A. Al-Qahtani, Samir Hamdan, Magdy M. Mahfouz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Simple, rapid, specific, and sensitive point-of-care detection methods are needed to contain the spread of SARS-CoV-2. CRISPR/Cas9-based lateral flow assays are emerging as a powerful alternative for COVID-19 diagnostics. Here, we developed Bio-SCAN (biotin-coupled specific CRISPR-based assay for nucleic acid detection) as an accurate pathogen detection platform that requires no sophisticated equipment or technical expertise. Bio-SCAN detects the SARS-CoV-2 genome in less than 1 h from sample collection to result. In the first step, the target nucleic acid sequence is isothermally amplified in 15 min via recombinase polymerase amplification before being precisely detected by biotin-labeled nuclease-dead SpCas9 (dCas9) on commercially available lateral flow strips. The resulting readout is visible to the naked eye. Compared to other CRISPR-Cas-based pathogen detection assays, Bio-SCAN requires no additional reporters, probes, enhancers, reagents, or sophisticated devices to interpret the results. Bio-SCAN is highly sensitive and successfully detected a clinically relevant level (4 copies/μL) of synthetic SARS-CoV-2 RNA genome. Similarly, Bio-SCAN showed 100% negative and 96% positive predictive agreement with RT-qPCR results when using clinical samples (86 nasopharyngeal swab samples). Furthermore, incorporating variant-specific sgRNAs in the detection reaction allowed Bio-SCAN to efficiently distinguish between the α, β, and δSARS-CoV-2 variants. Also, our results confirmed that the Bio-SCAN reagents have a long shelf life and can be assembled locally in nonlaboratory and limited-resource settings. Furthermore, the Bio-SCAN platform is compatible with the nucleic acid quick extraction protocol. Our results highlight the potential of Bio-SCAN as a promising point-of-care diagnostic platform that can facilitate low-cost mass screening for SARS-CoV-2.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalACS Synthetic Biology
StatePublished - Dec 23 2021

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2022-01-27
Acknowledgements: This work was supported, in part, by the Smart Health Initiative at KAUST and the IAF grant from the KAUST IED to M.M.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Bio-SCAN: A CRISPR/dCas9-Based Lateral Flow Assay for Rapid, Specific, and Sensitive Detection of SARS-CoV-2'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this