A high-throughput pipeline for scalable kit-free RNA extraction

Ping HanMaybelle K. GoJeng Yeong ChowBo XueYan Ping LimMichael A. CroneMarko StorchPaul S. Freemont & Wen Shan Yew

Given the global over-reliance on commercial, kit-based RNA extraction in the molecular diagnoses of infectious diseases such as SARS-CoV-2, past challenges in the event of supply chain disruptions have hindered testing capacity in times of need. Apart from supply chain strain, the affordability of kit-based approaches also can be prohibitive to countries in South Asia, South America, and Africa. The work presents a robust alternative for RNA extraction that guarantees a stable and scalable supply at a low cost while maintaining diagnostic sensitivity and specificity, to ensure that mass testing in future epidemics (and pandemics) is not compromised by the unavailability and/or unaffordability of RNA extraction kits. The workflow is designed with miniaturization and minimal manual operation in mind. In the absence of automation, the workflow is also adaptable for manual operation, ensuring the cost-effective acquisition of RNA from large numbers of samples. Notably, the approach is more cost-effective as kit-based RNA isolation is more expensive than TRIzol-based RNA extraction. This work also represents the fruitful collaborative effort between the London BioFoundry at the Imperial College Translation and Innovation Hub and the Singapore BioFoundry at the NUS Synthetic Biology for Clinical and Technological Innovation. The Global BioFoundries Alliance proudly acknowledges the facilitation of this collaborative work. Read the full Publication.