A recent invention in Boston detects COVID infections, their variants, and antibodies inside a patient’s body using saliva samples within two hours.
A research team from Boston has created a postcard-sized test to detect the SARS-COV-2 infection and the resulting antibodies present in a COVID patient. The test can diagnose active COVID patient cases and identify the variants responsible for the disease. Also, the antibody levels would determine whether the patient is protected from future infections.
According to researchers, their invention, a portable new device, would act as an essential tool to help curtain the rise of infections caused due to new variants over time. The device tests a patient’s saliva sample quickly within two hours. The Nature Biomedical Engineering journal published the preliminary findings from the testing device on Monday.
A Bioengineering researcher at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and coauthor Helena de Puig said, “In the early days, everyone was working on developing diagnostics that could detect either the SARS-CoV-2 virus or antibodies against it, but not both.”
Wyss Institute researchers combined two existing COVID technologies they had developed previously. The first test diagnoses variants, as mentioned in a paper published in Science Advances last August. The test looks for a typical RNA of all coronavirus variants and each variant’s specific segments. The second test measures COVID antibodies by placing them in two electric probes, creating an electric signal.
The researchers used samples from 19 COVID-positive and 11 negative patients to find 100% accurate diagnostic results. In addition, they detected viral SARS-CoV-2 RNA and IgG antibodies formed in COVID patients to respond to the infection. Researchers specified that, although motivating, the results were delivered using a small amount of saliva samples available during the test. Moreover, the device needs further tinkering to upgrade its reusable and electronic features.
A lead scientist at biotech startup StataDX and co-author, Sanjay Sharma Timilsina, informed in the press release, “Being able to easily distinguish between different types of antibodies is hugely beneficial for determining whether patients’ immunity is due to vaccines versus infection, and tracking the strength of those different immunity levels over time,”
Theoretical application of the new device’s RNA and antibody-detecting technologies could help test future pandemics. MIT bioengineering researcher, and co-author James Collins, said in the press release, “What excites me about this diagnostic device is that it combines a high level of accuracy with a flexible design that could make it a major tool in our arsenal for addressing future pandemics.”