20 Sep Wisconsin State Journal: Promega develops methods for detecting SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater
It has an odor, it flows through your pipes, and you might not even notice it’s there after you flush it down.
But it also has the potential to save lives, and to predict how prevalent the SARS-CoV-2 virus might be in a community — before people are able to tell that the pathogen has infected them. It can even forecast COVID-19 surges days before people become symptomatic — or need hospitalization.
Wastewater-based epidemiology is a growing field and Fitchburg-based biotech giant Promega Corp. may have figured out how to predict a COVID outbreak for a population of tens of thousands from a single wastewater sample.
The practice of detecting illnesses in wastewater isn’t new, but some new Promega tools allow health authorities and labs to detect COVID-19 in samples within a matter of hours compared to nearly half a day with some methods.
“Back in March 2020, there was a study that was conducted in the Netherlands, and the researchers there in a lab showed that you could detect the (ribonucleic acid) from SARS-CoV-2 in sewage water,” said Sameer Moorji, Promega director of applied markets. “What they showed in that study was that you couldn’t only detect RNA, but you could quantify it.
“We thought that this would be an area that we could support and develop for this kind of testing.”