The components of certain things are meant to remain mysterious. The ingredients of sausage. A burger's slimy secret sauce. The recipe for Coke or Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Researchers from Stanford University are tackling the make-up of another entity, something rather new to our world: the stuff retrieved from swabs shoved up nostrils to sample genetic material from SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind COVID-19. A swab actually samples much more than the virus's RNA, required for diagnosis.
John Gorzynski and colleagues describe the "multi-omic data repositories" from deployed swabs in a preprint (not yet peer-reviewed) and at the recent virtual annual meeting of The American Society of Human Genetics.
"A single nasopharyngeal swab can reveal substantial host and viral genomic information in a high-throughput manner that will facilitate public health pandemic tracking and research into the mechanisms underlying virus-host interactions," they write.
That's a mouthful. I'll just call them super swabs.
Amplifying Viral Sequences
Extracting clues from the stuff on the swabs is a little like collecting evidence at a crime scene. Several things happen.
To continue reading, please go to my blog DNA Science at Public Library of Science, where this post first appeared.