UNM researchers create new chip technology to better test for, trace COVID-19

Researchers at UNM have developed new technology they said better tests for COVID-19. It also allows for faster and more accurate tracing of the virus, which they believe will ultimately save lives.A UNM professor who helped develop it said this new chip will help them track and understand the variants in real time and help society make more informed decisions.“A virus out of control like this, it gives it many opportunities to mutate,” said Jeremy Edwards, professor and director of the Computational Genomics and Technology (CGaT) Laboratory at The University of New Mexico.He’s talking about mutations of COVID-19 that could have very different outcomes like being more contagious. That’s why Edwards said tracking and understanding variants is so important. He and other researchers from Centrillion Technologies in Palo Alto, CA, are doing this through their new chip technology.“Really just need to take a clinical sample, amplify the virus – the genome sequence from the virus, and sequence it,” said Edwards. “It’ll tell us what variants are out there. It will give us the information to know if the virus is still going to be responding to the vaccines very rapidly.”He said they can get the information in real time and see mutations occurring as they happen – that way society adapt immediately. While he said the general technology has been around for about 15 years, what they’re doing is cheaper, faster and easier than before. “So, now we really shouldn’t have any bottleneck,” said Edwards. “We should be able to apply this technology to sequence every clinical sample because it’s 10, maybe 100 times cheaper than the other methods that are really not being used as much.”Most importantly, he said this could help save lives now and in the future.“It’s going to help us save lives by designing better vaccines and keeping up with the virus variants that are out there, but it should also help us prevent the next pandemic,” said Edwards.He said the technology is ready to go. They just need to get it out there. Right now, they’re in the process of partnering with UNMH.Researchers said this technology could also help improve the treatments for existing diseases like the flu by tracking the strains infecting people each year.

Researchers at UNM have developed new technology they said better tests for COVID-19. It also allows for faster and more accurate tracing of the virus, which they believe will ultimately save lives.

A UNM professor who helped develop it said this new chip will help them track and understand the variants in real time and help society make more informed decisions.

“A virus out of control like this, it gives it many opportunities to mutate,” said Jeremy Edwards, professor and director of the Computational Genomics and Technology (CGaT) Laboratory at The University of New Mexico.

He’s talking about mutations of COVID-19 that could have very different outcomes like being more contagious. That’s why Edwards said tracking and understanding variants is so important. He and other researchers from Centrillion Technologies in Palo Alto, CA, are doing this through their new chip technology.

“Really just need to take a clinical sample, amplify the virus – the genome sequence from the virus, and sequence it,” said Edwards. “It’ll tell us what variants are out there. It will give us the information to know if the virus is still going to be responding to the vaccines very rapidly.”

He said they can get the information in real time and see mutations occurring as they happen – that way society adapt immediately. While he said the general technology has been around for about 15 years, what they’re doing is cheaper, faster and easier than before.

“So, now we really shouldn’t have any bottleneck,” said Edwards. “We should be able to apply this technology to sequence every clinical sample because it’s 10, maybe 100 times cheaper than the other methods that are really not being used as much.”

Most importantly, he said this could help save lives now and in the future.

“It’s going to help us save lives by designing better vaccines and keeping up with the virus variants that are out there, but it should also help us prevent the next pandemic,” said Edwards.

He said the technology is ready to go. They just need to get it out there. Right now, they’re in the process of partnering with UNMH.

Researchers said this technology could also help improve the treatments for existing diseases like the flu by tracking the strains infecting people each year.

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