February 11, 2021

Test system for determining various strains of SARS-CoV-2 developed by RUSNANO’s FIEP / FIEP

The ReadSense startup of the TechnoSpark Group of Companies, operating within the investment network of the RUSNANO’s Fund for Infrastructure and Educational Programs (FIEP), has developed a genetic test system capable of determining not only the presence of coronavirus infection but also a specific strain of SARS-CoV-2. The first experimental batches will be ready for delivery to research laboratories in the near future.

We have created the first universal platform in Russia for quick virus strain detection. The invention is easy to scale; while coronavirus is one of the most complex objects that this system can work with, but not the only one. In a short time, the test system can be quite easily upgraded for other purposes.

Gleb Speshilov, Head of ReadSense Genomic Center

This project implies using TGS (third generation sequencing), a method of monomolecular sequencing, along with Nanopore sequencing technology. A cloud service for quick analysis of sequencing data and the pathogen strain identification is also a part of development. This test system application will allow analyzing the SARS-CoV-2 positive samples previously confirmed by the PCR method. In this respect, the virus pre-cultivation is not required. A strain will be determined within 3 hours from the moment of COVID-19 detection.

Photo by TechnoSpark

The new test system is capable of supplementing the method of a polymerase chain reaction with reverse transcription (RT-PCR), the most commonly used method of coronavirus diagnosing today. More than a dozen such tests have been registered in Russia, but they do not allow determining specific strains of SARS-CoV-2. Meanwhile, clinical observations give evidence of very different aggressiveness peculiar to the various coronavirus strains in terms of the disease transmission and severity in certain categories of infected people. The updated information on a particular strain of SARS-CoV-2 can be taken into account when choosing an adequate treatment plan, considering the strain severity, the overall health of a patient, and the severity of the disease’s course.

The ReadSense’s own capacity allows producing up to five thousand test systems every month.


The investment and technical resources of TechnoSpark and the entire network of the FIEP nanotechnology centers make it possible to quickly increase the new test systems production up to the volume required nationwide. All relevant businesses of the Group will provide assistance. The innovative production labor division system developed by TechnoSpark in the past eight years works as a conveyor for innovations — fast and efficiently.

Denis Kovalevich, Chairman of the Board of Directors, TechnoSpark Group of Companies

ReadSense is also ready to provide sequencing services i.e. reading DNA and RNA biomolecules, in particular, in order to determine the coronavirus strains. Existing PCR laboratories working with COVID-19 can be fitted with appropriate research equipment to meet sequencing needs throughout the country. It is worth applying the ReadSense test systems rationally in those organizations that diagnose 40 to 100 positive tests per day. The strain determination cost will be about one and a half times higher than the regular PCR test for coronavirus. “However, the cost of alternative DNA reading methods, known in the market, is substantially higher”, Gleb Speshilov assured.

Globally, the states are now applying extraordinary measures subsequent to the spread of the so-called British and South African strains of coronavirus, which can cause reinfection among those affected by other strains, and show increased mortality among those infected. The most extreme restrictions and control measures are being introduced to control the expansion of their distribution areas. It is crucial to prevent the possible contacts of patients with different strains in healthcare facilities. However, microbiologists are convinced that the emergence of new coronavirus strains is inevitable.


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