John Chaput and Kefan Yang Develop a Fast, Easy-to-Use Detection System for COVID-19

John Chaput Kevan Yang

Until recently, COVID-19 tests have been associated with long turnaround times of more than 24 hours.

In a June 10 study published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, UC Irvine Professor John Chaput, PhD, and PhD student Kefan Yang developed a nucleic acid detection system, named REVEALR, which offers an easy-to-use point-of-care platform that has a one-hour turnaround time and avoids the need for expensive instrumentation.

“The turnaround times of 24 hours or more prompted a need for alternative public health screening tools,” Chaput said. “The problem was exacerbated by the need for specialized equipment, reagents, and trained personnel, which may be unavailable in rural communities or developing countries.”

Relative to related CRISPR-based systems, REVEALR has several advantages, including:

  • Broader sequence targetability due to the absence of constraints imposed by the protospacer adjacent motif (PAM)
  • Increased simplicity by avoiding the need for protein expression and purification
  • Reduced cost of detection because the sensor is based entirely on synthetic oligonucleotides

These features, along with a programmable platform and a nucleic acid enzyme that can compete with a protein enzyme in a diagnostic assay, make REVEALR an attractive system for pathogen detection.

As Chaput and Yang look ahead, they aim to establish the next version of REVEALR to be amplification-free and rapid with a turnaround time of 30 minutes or less.

“Overall, the new system is expected to have high sensitivity without the preamplification step so that the detection process could potentially be faster and cheaper,” Chaput said.

To read the complete study, visit

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