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Roche has Rapidly Developed Additional Testing Options to Differentiate Mutations in the Omicron SARS-CoV-2 Variant

Roche and TIB Molbiol, a newly acquired subsidiary within the Roche Diagnostics division, have added three additional Research Use Only (RUO) test kits for the detection of mutations present in the novel B.1.1.529 Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variant: VirSNip SARS Spike ins214EPE (RUO), VirSNiP SARS-CoV-2 Spike S371L S373P (RUO), VirSNip SARS Spike E484A (RUO). The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified the recently emerged SARS-CoV-2 variant, Omicron (B.1.1.529), as a COVID-19 variant of concern (VOC).

The VirSNiP variant kits allow differentiation between unique mutations present within the Omicron variant compared to other SARS-CoV-2 variants and are for use on LightCycler and cobas z 480 analysers. Using a technology called qPCR (quantitative polymerase chain reaction) they can help researchers with improved variant detection and viral research, and are among the first to address the number of unique mutations of the Omicron variant.

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“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to be an evolving and complex situation, and Roche is committed to responding to healthcare’s biggest challenges. The teams at TIB Molbiol have worked around the clock since the new variant emerged, and today we are able to offer a test that can specifically identify the novel B.1.1.529 Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variant to help better understand its spread and behaviour,” said Thomas Schinecker, CEO Roche Diagnostics. “There is still much to learn about Omicron. It’s critical to identify Omicron quickly and accurately, which will help inform ongoing research – including the further development of therapeutics and vaccines – and potentially stop or slow down the advance of this new variant.”

The test kits have been developed by TIB Molbiol, with Roche announcing the legal completion of the purchase agreement of the Berlin-based company on 1 December 2021. This has enabled Roche to deliver an agile response to the evolving variant situation. TIB Molbiol’s researchers work in collaboration with their academic contacts to continually screen for new variants and emerging diseases allowing a fast and effective response to emerging healthcare needs. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, TIB Molbiol and Roche provided the first research use only SARS-CoV-2 detection test in January 2020, only days after the new coronavirus was first sequenced.

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[To share your insights with us, please write to sghosh@martechseries.com]

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