aSARS-CoV-2 continues to evolve, knowing that your immune status – whether from vaccines or from infections – will only grow in importance.
COVID-19 antibodies are the best disease immunity agent. But they currently need a health care provider to order the test, which must be done at a pharmacy or in a doctor’s office. The sample is then sent to a lab for analysis – all of which takes time, making the process very uncomfortable and cumbersome for most people.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have found a way to make antibody testing more accessible. They have developed a way to use widely available and relatively inexpensive glucose meters–small devices that read blood sugar levels from a finger prick–to detect SARS-CoV-2 antibodies.
in paper Posted in June in Journal of the American Chemical SocietyThe research team described how they developed a way to bind SARS-CoV-2 antibodies to sugar and then have a glucose reader measure sugar levels, which reflect the levels of the antibodies.
Dr. Nitz Arroyo, senior author of the paper and assistant professor of pharmacology and molecular sciences at Johns Hopkins.
While antibodies do not constitute the complete human immune response to the virus, they are an important window on the protection that people build. Antibodies are generally the first line of defense against a microbe, and once antibodies are formed, other immune cells, including T cells, jump in to expand and strengthen the response.
Arroyo inspired the development of the system after her recollection of 2011 paper He read as a graduate student in 2014 describing a similar system. As the pandemic spread in 2020, testing has been slow and cumbersome, causing public health officials to ignore how widespread the virus is and how much immunity people develop. “I immediately came up with the idea of using a blood glucose meter,” he says.
Arroyo and other Johns Hopkins researchers have begun developing a protein that sticks to COVID-19 antibodies that can be placed on a test strip, then create a way for a glucose meter to read the test strip. In the first version, the group used blood samples, but in the end, a finger prick of blood was enough for the test, Arroyo says. Researchers are exploring ways to make testing more accessible by using other samples such as saliva or mouth swabs, which also contain antibodies.
Another great advantage of the system is that it is generalizable to any infectious agent. Scientists just need to change the target sugar binds to. “We wanted to devise a way that not only affects this epidemic, but also affects future epidemics or epidemics,” Arroyo says.
This means that the test can also be used to measure monkeypox antibodies and provide clinicians with valuable information about how well Genus vaccineIt’s working, says Arroyo. The vaccine was approved based on limited information on monkeypox in humans — and it is Now in a different way In order to expand the supply – so being able to easily track antibodies in vaccinated people will give scientists a better understanding of the effectiveness and how quickly people can be protected.
Information about SARS-CoV-2 immunity could become more important in the coming months and years, as the world learns how to live with COVID-19. Understand how long protection lasts after each injury or booster dose It will help health authorities give better advice about how often the injections should be given. Because the test can also be modified to detect different variants, health experts can also get a better handle on whether protecting people from vaccines is effective against the latest circulating variants.
To detect antibodies, the researchers’ system now requires three steps, each of which involves processing the blood for different reactions. But researchers are working on ways to simplify the process to make it similar to the one-step process used by home COVID-19 tests. The university’s Technology Enterprises Office will license the test to companies interested in developing it further.
“The goal is to better understand immunity to COVID-19 and other diseases,” Arroyo says. This type of test is “a powerful tool for monitoring what is happening in our society, and can inform policy decisions”.
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