Detection of Coronavirus Using Toehold Switches

Detection of Coronavirus Using Toehold Switches

Detection of Coronavirus Using Toehold Switches

Coronaviruses are linear single-stranded positive-stranded RNA viruses, which are classified into four genera, including type A, type B, type C, and type D, according to their genetic composition sequences. Coronaviruses infect only vertebrates, and seven strains of coronaviruses are known to infect humans. The severity of human illnesses caused by coronavirus infections varies from severe cases such as MERS-CoV infections, which have a mortality rate of more than 30%, to mild cases that cause less severe symptoms of the common cold such as fever and sore throat. The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 in 2019 has swept the world, killed millions of people, and caused huge economic losses. To effectively prevent the spread of coronaviruses, the development of detection methods is particularly important. 

Conventional Testing Methods

The main methods commonly used to detect coronaviruses are pathogenic assays: detection of coronaviruses using RT-PCR, and serological assays: detection of coronavirus-specific IgM antibodies and IgG antibodies using ELISA. However, both methods have significant disadvantages. RT-PCR assays require a high standard of laboratory space and equipment; early coronavirus infections with low antibody levels may not be detected by ELISA.

Toehold Switches in Coronavirus Detection

Toehold switches, as engineered RNA elements that can precisely manipulate the expression of downstream reporter genes, have been applied to the development of coronavirus detection tests because of their ability to sensitively detect target RNA. Toehold switches-based coronavirus detection devices have been developed. With our long-standing expertise in toehold switches, CD BioSciences is also able to leverage our toehold switches technology platform for the detection of coronaviruses.

The Development Services We Can Provide Based on Toehold Switches

We are able to offer you the following development services for toehold switches-based biosensors to help you perform quick and easy immediate (POC) diagnosis of coronaviruses.

Our Testing Services Based on the Toehold Switches Platform

Currently, there are more studies on coronaviruses that infect humans. We can use our toehold switches technology platform to provide testing services for the following 7 coronaviruses for teams and universities engaged in biosynthesis-related research. We are also able to provide toehold switches-based assays for these coronaviruses for researchers working on the development of coronavirus assays.

  • Human Coronavirus 229E (HCoV-229E)
  • Human Coronavirus OC43 (HCoV-OC43)
  • Human Coronavirus NL63 (HCoV-NL63)
  • Human Coronavirus HKU1 (HCoV-HKU1)
  • Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV)
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (SARS-CoV)
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)

Advantages of Toehold Switches in Coronavirus Detection

  • Simple detection steps, no professional operator required.
  • Short detection time, able to quickly detect viruses.
  • The detection environment is not restricted by the site and can conduct POC detection.

CD BioSciences has accumulated extensive knowledge in toehold switches and is a professional provider of services related to toehold switches. We have a professional technology platform and service system for developing coronavirus detection sensors based on toehold switches. Please feel free to contact us for toehold switches technical support.


  1. Cui, J.; et al. Origin and evolution of pathogenic coronaviruses. Nat Rev Microbiol. 2019, 17(3): 181-192.
  2. Park, S.; Lee, J.W. Detection of Coronaviruses Using RNA Toehold Switch Sensors. Int J Mol Sci. 2021, 22(4): 1772.
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