In order to prevent further infections with the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, extensive testing of all suspected cases is essential. However, test capacities are still only available to a limited extent. One problem is the lack of chemicals for the isolation of the virus from smear test samples as an essential step before the subsequent so-called PCR tests (polymerase chain reaction tests) required for this purpose – in fact, this test procedure is part of the standard repertoire in modern laboratories, which can also be used to detect the HIV virus, for example. Due to the high demand for certain components, however, supply bottlenecks are now increasingly occurring. Among other things, lysis buffer solutions that ensure a proper isolation of intact viral RNA as a prerequisite for a successful test result are becoming scarce.
Prof. Dr. Ulrich S. Schubert and his staff members from the Institute for Organic and Macromolecular Chemistry (IOMC) at the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena and Dr. Stefanie Deinhardt-Emmer and Prof. Dr. Bettina Löffler from the Microbiology Department of the University Hospital of Jena have been looking for alternatives and have tested various lysis buffer solutions. These were used in diagnostics, and in parallel their effectiveness was determined in comparison with routinely used diagnostic systems. The result: Two buffer solutions are well suited and also the purification columns of the product "RNeasy Mini Kit" from the company Qiagen can be combined, which is often used for research work and is still readily available (there might me multiple additional kits accessible). This means that the test capacities can be significantly increased. On Tuesday, 24.03.2020, this current information was made available to various professors and institutes via the Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker (GDCh). The information includes detailed instructions for the preparation of the buffer solutions, the test results as well as an Excel tool for easy calculation of the buffer approaches.
The pandemic of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has been keeping the world on tenterhooks since the beginning of the year, and an end to its spread is not yet in sight. More than 205,000 infections have already been detected throughout Europe, and the trend is still rising exponentially (as of 24.03.2020). In order to slow down the spread of the virus, a test of all suspected cases and the consistent isolation of those who are infected is absolutely necessary. The findings from Jena can contribute to this.