Customer Stories

SEQ-IT Develops SARS-CoV-2 Variant Test with Ability to Add New Variants Using MassARRAY®

Meet Dr. Bernhard Thiele and SEQ-IT

SEQ-IT is a leader in molecular diagnostics and next-generation sequencing solutions. The company offers single sequencing and project support including planning, preparation, sequencing, and bioinformatic analysis. SEQ-IT is located in Kaiserlautern, Germany, and the company serves as the commercial service branch of the Institute of Immunology and Genetics.

Dr. Bernhard Thiele, CEO of SEQ-IT, leads a team of molecular biologists, bioinformaticians, virologists, human geneticists, pathologists, and laboratory physicians. Head of Development and Biologist Thomas Alef of SEQ-IT worked closely with Agena Bioscience® to develop this panel.

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The company recently made a breakthrough with the completion of a novel mass spectrometry based rapid test for SARS-CoV-2 variants using the MassARRAY® System from Agena Bioscience.1

The Challenge

There is growing concern among clinical laboratories that variants could impact detection of the virus into the future. Variants can provide serious risks, as they have the potential to be transmitted faster, re-infection is more likely, variants might change clinical outcomes, and vaccines may be less effective against them.2,3

Sequencing-based tests have faced complications in meeting the urgent needs that have arisen from the coronavirus pandemic. When a matter of days can make a huge difference in the diagnosis and spread of SARS-CoV-2, a need has quickly arisen for faster, accurate testing that can adapt to anticipated variants.

“The highly complex sequencing technology takes a lot of time and is costly – which makes it a rather inefficient tool given the current urgent need for rapid screening of known Corona variants in the population,” said Thomas Alef.

The Solution

In partnership with Agena Bioscience, SEQ-IT successfully completed development and validation of a mass spectrometry-based test to rapidly detect and different key SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern. The test is more affordable than current next generation sequencing-based methods, and results can be delivered in less than a day.

“The MassARRAY System puts us in the position to quickly and reliably test samples for the most relevant Corona variants,”
– Dr. Bernhard Thiele.

The test panel from SEQ-IT detects 20 of the most relevant SARS-CoV-2 mutations in the B.1.1.7 (UK), B.1.351 (South Africa), P.1 (Brazil), and Cluster 5 / Mink (Denmark) lineages. It features high sensitivity and sufficient resolution. The test is capable of easily extending the SARS-CoV-2 panel to capture emerging variants.

Mass spectrometry technology is scalable, allowing laboratories to process thousands of samples a day and ultimately support effective surveillance programs as the pandemic continues to evolve.

"The MassARRAY System is a straight-forward technology which allows us to deliver accurate results within a single day at less than half of the cost of sequencing. Also, it will enable a highly scalable and effective surveillance program in the near future," said Thomas Alef.

The completion of the successful mass spectrometry based rapid test aligns with a continued dedication from SEQ-IT to the COVID-19 pandemic response.

Learn How the MassARRAY System Can Support High-Throughput, Low-Cost Viral Testing

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1. Stürmer M, Alef T, Irwin D. Webinar: Responding to Emerging SARS-CoV-2 Variants – The Impact on Existing Diagnostic Testing and the Clinical Utility of Differentiation Assays. Published February 26, 2021. Accessed March 11, 2021.

“ The MassARRAY System is a straight-forward technology which allows us to deliver accurate results within a single day at less than half of the cost of sequencing.

– Thomas Alef

Head of Development & Biologist