Promega’s new workflow detects infection rates using wastewater samples

Promega, a provider of solutions and technical support to the life sciences industry, has developed a workflow that enables wastewater testing laboratories, including public health organisations, to access the health of entire communities from a single sample. The Maxwell RSC Enviro Total Nucleic Acid Kit and Wizard Enviro Total Nucleic Acid Kit join a growing portfolio of products that support wastewater surveillance to monitor the spread of SARS-CoV-2.

Wastewater testing gained popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2 shed viral particles in their feces, even before they show symptoms. As a result, the levels of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in wastewater reflect the trends in infection rates in a given community. Collected consistently, this data can predict outbreaks as much as seven days earlier than clinical tests, Promega claimed.

Subhanjan Mondal, senior research scientist at Promega, said: “Wastewater gives you a snapshot of the entire community. To think of any other sample type that has much wealth of information…it is hard to even imagine.”

Promega scientists have published a study in Science of The Total Environment detailing direct capture methods for rapid and high-yield purification of viral nucleic acids from wastewater. These methods overcome the shortcomings of traditional precipitation-based isolation of viral particles, which fail to capture the degraded viruses present in wastewater. The publication demonstrates that direct capture methods produce samples that are compatible with RT-qPCR for monitoring infection levels and next-generating sequencing (NGS) for detecting viral variants.

The methods published in Science of the Total Environment form the basis of the new Maxwell RSC Enviro Total Nucleic Acid Kit, an automated method for purification of viral nucleic acids, as well as the manual Wizard Enviro Total Nucleic Acid Kit. Both kits are designed to work with the large sample volumes required for wastewater testing and remove inhibitors that can disrupt downstream testing. The protocols can also be altered to process solids extracted from wastewater, in addition to only liquids.

The purification kits can be used with the SARS-CoV-2 RT-qPCR Kit for Wastewater to form a complete workflow for monitoring SARS-CoV-2 levels in wastewater. The workflow moves from sample to results in less than four hours, according to Promega, offering quick answers to inform decisions. This portfolio will continue to expand with additional amplification kits to be launched later.