PerkinElmer has introduced two research-use-only (RUO) assays for the detection of genomic mutations linked to SARS-CoV-2 variants.

The PKamp VariantDetect SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR Assay and next-generation sequencing-based NEXTFLEX Variant-Seq SARS-CoV-2 Kit use nucleic acid extracted from specimens that previously tested positive.

After identifying a positive case with the help of a first-tier diagnostic assay, second-tier assays such as the PerkinElmer PKamp VariantDetect and NEXTFLEX Variant-Seq kits could offer further information about mutations in the specimen.

In addition, the PKamp VariantDetect SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR Assay can identify mutations linked to the predominant variant strains, B.1.1.7, B.1.351, and P.1 variants.

The workflow of NEXTFLEX Variant-Seq SARS-CoV-2 WGS can identify all SARS-CoV-2 genetic changes linked to the strain, which was originally detected in Wuhan, China.

PerkinElmer diagnostics senior vice-president Masoud Toloue said: “While continuing to rely on gold-standard RT-PCR tests for Covid-19 diagnosis, we must understand emerging variants to effectively limit the spread of the virus.

“The second-tier assays made available today are the outcome of a product development engine primed to continue producing assays that will help labs outpace the virus.”

In a separate development, the company has concluded the acquisition of UK-based company Oxford Immunotec.

The move comes after PerkinElmer reached an agreement to acquire Oxford Immunotec for approximately $591m in January.

Oxford Immunotec focuses on test kits for latent tuberculosis. Its Interferon Gamma Release Assay (IGRA) offering can detect people infected with tuberculosis.

PerkinElmer president and CEO Prahlad Singh said: “Oxford Immunotec’s global role in fighting tuberculosis, particularly its trademark product, the T-SPOT.TB test, and the operations it has built are remarkable.

“We recognise the distinct clinical and logistical advantages of the test and see a great opportunity to leverage our automation capabilities and commercial channel access to bring tuberculosis testing to more customers around the world.”