Scientists have created a rapid test to measure the level of immunity to COVID-19

Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a test for immunity to coronavirus. The invention measures the amount of neutralizing antibodies in the blood. A detailed story about the test is published in the journal Call Reports Methods.

Measuring antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 is the most effective way to understand how protected a person is from the virus. However, these tests usually require laboratory equipment. Scientists decided to simplify the diagnosis and create a system for testing at home.

To do this, the researchers turned to the principle of rapid home tests for COVID-19. The main difference between the invention of American scientists is that very little blood is needed to determine the immune response, literally a drop.

The prototype test kit comes with a finger prick needle. Blood is added to a container with reagents consisting of the SARS-CoV-2 viral protein. This substance is marked with microscopic particles of gold. Blood mixed with protein is placed on an indicator strip, and in the case of a positive test, an additional line will appear on the sample. A specially designed smartphone application will help you accurately assess the intensity of this line and calculate the approximate amount of antibodies.

Image: MIT News

Clinical trials within a few months of a COVID-19 vaccination have shown that the test can detect both an increase in the number of antibodies (for example, after the second vaccination) and a decrease in their number over time.

It is important to note that neutralizing antibodies are just part of the complex and multifaceted response of the immune system to viral infections. Studies conducted over the past two years have shown that the number of such antibodies makes it clear how protected a person is from a pathogen. Their level noticeably decreases already a few months after vaccination or an illness, but this does not mean that a person becomes powerless in front of a pathogen.

According to Hojun Lee, one of the test’s lead developers, the new technology will help to effectively monitor immune responses in the most vulnerable populations.

This test is very useful for those who are undergoing chemotherapy, taking immunosuppressants, as well as for the elderly and those who have a weak immune system. All of them need increased doses of antibodies for reliable protection of the body.

Hojun Lee

fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Determining the level of neutralizing particles will make the fight against coronavirus more effective – just like wearing masks. Now scientists are looking for a manufacturer who would help put production on stream.

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