Great Basin and Rice University Announce Collaboration to Optimize the Design of SARS-CoV-2 Molecular Assays

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Collaboration between Great Basin and Rice University to develop COVID-19 Testing

Great Basin Scientific, a molecular diagnostics company, and Dr. Todd Treangen’s bioinformatics group in the Department of Computer Science at Rice University (http://www.treangenlab.com), today announced a co-development partnership that is optimizing the design and in silico evaluation of molecular detection assays for the SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA, the pathogen that causes COVID-19. The aim of the co-development partnership is to streamline development and commercialization of robust and genetically stable COVID-19 testing.

The Treangen lab COVID-19 diagnostics team, led by PhD student Nicolae Sapoval, postdoctoral scientist Dr. Leo Elworth, and Assistant Professor Dr. Todd Treangen, have developed a novel bioinformatics software called OliVar (http://www.gitlab.com/treangenlab/olivar), which allows researchers and assay developers to automate and design assays that target the regions that have the lowest frequency of mutation, resulting in the design of high-quality molecular detection assays specifically targeting the regions of high genomic stability. The ability to identify stable genomic regions is especially important for viral genomes which are rapidly evolving and highly mutative by nature, ensuring test longevity and robustness. Additional team members who aided in the development of the OliVar include software engineer Bryce Kille, and PhD students Yunxi Liu and Yilei Fu.

Great Basin is using primer and probe designs generated in silico using OliVar to further optimize, test, validate, and incorporate into the Great Basin SARS-CoV-2 Direct Test, an RT-PCR based test that detects SARS-CoV-2 RNA directly from upper respiratory patient specimens. The Great Basin SARS-CoV-2 Direct Test, which utilizes the company’s cartridge-based system and fully automated Great Basin Analyzer, is in late-stage development and is expected to be submitted to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) later this year for Emergency Use Approval (EUA) authorization.

“Given the gravity of the disease, its capacity for contagion, and the rapidly evolving and highly mutative nature of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, Great Basin is excited to be working with the Treangen team and Rice University to develop a robust test for COVID-19 that can be transformative in alleviating the pressure this pandemic has placed on healthcare resources and our communities,” said Larry Rea, COO of Great Basin.

About Great Basin Scientific
Great Basin Scientific is a molecular diagnostics company that commercializes breakthrough chip-based technologies. Great Basin is dedicated to the development of simple, yet powerful, sample-to-result technology and products that provide fast, multiple-pathogen diagnoses of infectious diseases. The Company’s vision is to make molecular diagnostic testing so simple and cost-effective that every patient will be tested for every serious infection, reducing misdiagnoses and significantly limiting the spread of infectious disease. More information can be found on the Company’s website at http://www.gbscience.com.

About Rice University
Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,962 undergraduates and 3,027 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is just under 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for lots of race/class interaction and No. 4 for quality of life by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.

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