High-Throughput Transcription-mediated amplification on the Hologic Panther is a highly sensitive method of detection for SARS-CoV-2.J Clin Virol. 2020 08; 129:104501.JC
As the demand for laboratory testing for SARS-CoV-2 increases, additional varieties of testing methodologies are being considered. While real time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) has performed as the main method for virus detection, other methods are becoming available, including transcription mediated amplification (TMA). The Hologic Aptima SARS-CoV-2 Assay utilizes TMA as a target amplification mechanism, and it has only recently received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
We sought to compare the sensitivity and specificity of the Aptima SARS-CoV-2 Assay to RTPCR as a means of SARS-CoV-2 detection in a diagnostic setting.
We performed a limit-of-detection study (LoD) to assess the analytical sensitivity of TMA and RT-PCR. This preceded a comparison of the methods using previously evaluated clinical specimens (nasopharyngeal swabs) using 116 human specimens tested by both methodologies. Specimens included sixty-one (61) specimens found reactive by real-time PCR, fifty-one (51) found non-reactive, and four (4) deemed inconclusive.
The Aptima SARS-CoV-2 Assay showed a markedly higher analytical sensitivity than RT-PCR by LoD study. Evaluation of clinical specimens resulted in fewer inconclusive results by the SARS-CoV-2 assay, leading to potentially higher clinical sensitivity.
Higher analytical sensitivity may explain TMA's ability to ascertain for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 genome in human specimens deemed inconclusive by real-time PCR. TMA provides an effective, highly sensitive means of detection of SARS-CoV-2 in nasopharyngeal specimens.