Detection of SARS CoV-2 coronavirus omicron variant with mass spectrometry†
Mass mapping using high resolution mass spectrometry has been applied to identify and rapidly distinguish the omicron variant of the SARS-CoV2 coronavirus strains from other major variants of concern. Insertions, deletions and mutations within the surface spike protein result in associated mass differences in the mass maps that distinguish the variant from the originating strain and the preceding alpha, beta, gamma and delta variants of concern. The same mass map profiles can also be used to construct phylogenetic trees, without the need for protein (or gene) sequences or their alignment, in order to chart and study the origins of the variants, or any other strains. The speed and sensitivity of mass spectrometric analysis is demonstrated for a preliminary set of clinical specimens with comparable sample handling to that required in PCR based approaches.