COVID19 - Detection

LLMDA Team

Diagnostic testing plays a critical role in any large-scale biological event. The ability to quickly separate infected from healthy individuals, or to understand if an environment is contaminated, requires rapid, accurate and abundant testing capabilities. For the past two decades, LLNL bioscientists and bioengineers have developed, deployed and/or commercialized numerous diagnostic technologies. We are applying this expertise to COVID-19 with several research efforts. 

Rapid, point-of-need diagnostics 

  • We are adapting our Viral Sensing Diagnostic system to detect the virus that causes COVID-19. This genetic diagnostic system will provide medical professionals, emergency responders and others with an inexpensive, non-invasive and highly sensitive point-of-need tool for rapid (<30 minutes) detection of COVID-19. 

Diagnostics to assess co-infection

  • We are updating our DNA microarray system, the Lawrence Livermore Microbial Detection Array (LLMDA), which is useful for conducting broad spectrum analysis of all known/sequenced viruses, bacteria and fungi (>12,000 microbes), to include accurate detection of the virus that causes COVID-19. In a clinical diagnostic setting, this system can help assess co-infection with other viruses or bacteria to help better inform clinical care.  

Evaluating options to accelerate RNA extraction

  • The time required to extract RNA from clinical samples (first step in the process to test for the virus that causes COVID-19) is time-consuming, and there also is a critical shortage of RNA extraction kits. To help address these issues, LLNL is part of a multi-laboratory DOE team of experts working to identify options that will accelerate testing.


For more information about the U.S. government's response to COVID-19, see coronavirus.gov and usa.gov/coronavirus. For the latest public health and safety information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, see cdc.gov/coronavirus.