Device tracks covid antibodies in five minutes


Brazilian research develops new technique for the identification of covid antibodies. Technology also points to the proteins produced after vaccination

Regardless of advances in the control of covid-19 in most countries, the disease is still a challenge for global public health and epidemiological surveillance must be maintained, as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). In this scenario, Brazilian researchers develop a new device that can detect antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in 5 minutes, accurately and cheaply.

Photo: swiftsciencewriting/Pixabay / Canaltech

The device’s advantage is that the technology tracks both antibodies produced after a coronavirus infection as well as those induced by covid vaccines. In tests, the team of scientists was able to successfully identify the immune system proteins of people who received two doses of CoronaVac and also those who contracted the virus.

Published in the magazine ACS Biomaterials Science and Engineeringthe study was developed by researchers from the Federal University of ABC (Ufabc) and the Heart Institute (InCor) of the University of São Paulo School of Medicine (Fmusp), with support from Fapesp.

Alternative to measure covid antibodies in the population

Thinking about the post-vaccination period and ways to keep the immunity rate high against covid-19, the device could be, in the future, an alternative to monitor the population’s antibody levels, helping to define the best periodicity for new doses of the immunizer are distributed.

Please note that, during the most acute phases of covid in São Paulo, serological tests were carried out on the population, through initiatives such as SoroEpi MSP. However, the number of samples was limited to less than a thousand. With new technologies, it will be possible to scale the tests.

How does the new device that can detect covid antibodies work?

Device finds Covid-19 antibodies in five minutes (Image: Nunez et al., 2022/ACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering)

Device finds Covid-19 antibodies in five minutes (Image: Nunez et al., 2022/ACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering)

Photo: Canaltech

To create the technology for diagnosing covid-19 antibodies, the researchers used a material widely used in the field of metallurgy, zinc oxide. In addition, it has been combined, in an unprecedented way, with FTO, a type of electron-conducting glass.

“Through this unusual combination and adding a biomolecule, the viral protein spikeit was possible to develop a surface capable of detecting antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus”, explains Wendel Alves, professor at Ufabc and one of the authors of the article, in a statement.

“The electrode created detected antibodies against the new coronavirus in serum samples in about five minutes, with a sensitivity index of 88.7% and specificity of 100%”, adds the scientist. This number of hits is higher than the conventional ELISA test (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay), considered the gold standard in the area of ​​antibody testing, according to the team.

Now, the researchers’ next step is to adapt the platform to make it portable. The idea is to allow the connection of mobile devices and, with that, facilitate the detection of antibodies against covid and other infectious diseases in places with less access.

Source: ACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering and Agência FAPESP

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