1. As a scientist you have been involved in developing and utilizing the VERB assay, what do you appreciate most about the assay?
Dr. Carla Gonzalez: In my opinion, one of the greatest features of the VERB assay is its versatility. It allows not only the isolation of intact SARS-CoV-2 viral particles from different samples, but also the detection of neutralizing antibodies, among others.
Dr. Lei Pei: The VERB platform overcomes the common barriers to efficient detection of intact SARS-CoV-2, enabling to capture, concentrate, and preserve low abundance targets from complex biological or clinical samples.
2. What potential do you see for the VERB assay as a tool in research?
Dr. Carla Gonzalez: As a tool for researchers, the VERB assay has a great potential mainly because it allows the isolation of different SARS-CoV-2 variants. In addition, it enables the development of immunity monitoring research, as well as enabling research based on ACE2 interacting molecules.
Dr. Lei Pei: We are now having more tools for SARS-CoV-2 research, the VERB kit is, for sure, one of them. The potential I see for our assay is to be universal to all SARS-CoV-2 variants, which is very important to monitor the emerging new variants of concern (VOCs).
3. What was your greatest learning during the health crisis of the Coronavirus pandemic?
Dr. Carla Gonzalez: During the pandemic, healthcare systems around the world have been challenged to find diagnostic systems that provide fast and accurate results, allowing them to make quick clinical decisions. Furthermore, another challenge was the need to bring the diagnosis to settings with limited resources. While PCR has been the gold standard of within-the-laboratory testing accuracy, it has its limitations such as time and high cost, the need for qualified personnel, and equipment. That is why the development of accurate point-of-care diagnostic devices could solve clinical issues related to resource/time commitment.
Dr. Lei Pei: A universal tool is very important for the viruses that are constantly evolving and changing.