Scalable, Easy-to-Deploy Protocol for Cas13-Based Virus Detection

Tech ID: 32009 / UC Case 2020-715-0


Current methods for detecting diseases struggle to meet the global demand for widespread testing. The techniques require testing materials such as RPA kits and lateral flow sticks that are both expensive and limited in availability. In addition, current approaches often mandate special instrumentation and trained personnel for sample processing, which requires patient samples to be sent to a centralized laboratory or hospital which further delays patient feedback. These factors narrow down the scalability and ease of providing patient diagnoses at a time where disease detection is critical in the fight against global pandemics. 


Researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara have developed a Cas13-based, rugged, equitable, scalable testing (CREST) method capable of detecting virus-specific (e.g. SARS-CoV-2) genetic material that takes advantage of robust CRISPR-based nucleic acid detection coupled with low-cost, easy-to-use thermocyclers and fluorescent visualizers. CREST replaces expensive reagents with Taq polymerase, which is readily accessible, stable at room temperature, and further reduces costs. In addition, CREST is also equal in sensitivity to more conventional point-of-reference RT-qPCR-based techniques. These advantages allow CREST to overcome current testing limitations, bypass the need for highly trained personnel, and allow testing to be easily deployed at sites with minimal infrastructure. Thus, CREST provides a simplified, low-cost solution capable of addressing the current global demand for disease testing. 


  • Increased testing accessibility
  • Reduced costs
  • Scalability
  • Reduces the need for highly trained personnel, dedicated laboratory space, and special instrumentation


  • COVID-19 Testing
  • Animal and plant pathogen detection
  • Disease detection
  • Gene expression (mRNA presence and levels), gene variant (mRNA polymorphisms, splice variants), translocation (fusion transcripts) detection

Patent Status

Patent Pending


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Other Information


CREST, SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19, Taq polymerase, Cas13

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