The new COVID antibody test device can perform mass screening of immunity

Today, the increase in COVID cases is due to many different factors – the emergence of highly contagious variants, such as omicron, and a decrease in the rules of wearing masks and social exclusion, as well as a general decline in immunity of vaccinated people. not a surprise. Antibodies, whether caused by infection or vaccination, naturally decline over a period of several months (or faster, depending on the person’s age and health). Because COVID poses a constant threat to the home, researchers are developing new ways to quickly and easily assess immune status.

To achieve this, researchers in Hong Kong have developed a device that allows them to directly see the level of antibodies in someone after vaccination. The device was described in detail in a new paper published in the magazine on Friday Science Advances, identical to conventional coronavirus antibody testing platforms. This can be used as a good way to conduct mass screening for COVID immunity, to monitor someone’s immune status, or even to adjust the dose of the vaccine to a person’s immune needs.

Currently, most antibody tests require accurate blood samples analyzed in the laboratory. There are more convenient, home-based options for checking for parts of the saliva or nose. The problem with these available kits is that they can only answer yes or no to you and do not affect the level of antibodies in your body, said Ting Huang Chen, a biomedical engineer at the University of Hong Kong and chief research fellow, The Daily Beast said.

The new device, which does not fit in your hand, consists of a small transparent chip that carries two types of microparticles, small channels and a small window to see the final result. A microparticle is magnetic and coated in a viral protein. The second is made of a compound called polystyrene and coated with antibodies, which attract anti-COVID antibodies, which are usually directed at the spike protein.

Users just need to provide a few drops of blood plasma with their fingers. If COVID antibodies are present, they will adhere to the polystyrene microparticles, which in turn will adhere to the magnetic microparticles. The added microparticles separate magnetically by themselves and assemble into a small viewing window called a particle dam. A small strip is drawn on the side of the antibodies corresponding to the concentration of nanograms in one milliliter.

Chen and his team tested the device on 91 people who received a second dose of the vaccine a few weeks ago. The team found that the level of antibodies was highest for those who received the mRNA vaccine. However, for all, the level of antibodies dropped sharply after 45 days. These results were comparable to laboratory antibody tests and were better at detecting low levels of antibodies than at home with almost positive positives.

It should be noted that even if the level of your antibodies naturally decreases, this does not mean that you will lose the ability to produce antibodies. After a vaccination or infection, your body remembers the antigen, and if it reappears, the immune system can attack quickly.

However, according to Chen, it still takes time for your body to regenerate that memory and restore the necessary antibodies. In such a situation, a new test device may be helpful: during an epidemic, health agencies, clinics, or individuals can monitor antibody levels themselves to see which of those previously vaccinated have not responded adequately and may need to be amplified. . This can lead to an overdose of an individualized vaccine depending on age – older people do not develop strong immune reactions after vaccination – or if they have a health condition, such as a weakened immune system.

Chen and his team are still working to make the device available, making it possible to detect antibodies in samples such as spit or nasal secretions, allowing the device to be used at home.

“Our vision is to make the device as simple as a quick test, but also to ensure good accuracy [conventional antibody testing]”I often compare it to a mercury thermometer. It’s a device that can be seen without any equipment, can accurately measure temperature and be used by everyone. Our device is simple, easy to use and it is incomprehensible for everyone to get the desired results,” said Chen. Hope you can read.

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