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New Rapid COVID-19 Test Beats ELISA Method in Identifying SARS-CoV-2 Antibodies in Blood Within Just 12 Minutes

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 10 Feb 2021
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Image: New Rapid COVID-19 Test Beats ELISA Method in Identifying SARS-CoV-2 Antibodies in Blood within Just 12 Minutes (Photo courtesy of American Chemical Society)
Image: New Rapid COVID-19 Test Beats ELISA Method in Identifying SARS-CoV-2 Antibodies in Blood within Just 12 Minutes (Photo courtesy of American Chemical Society)
A new rapid COVID-19 test to detect coronavirus antibodies beats the enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) method in delivering results within just 12 minutes, marking a milestone in the development of immunological diagnostics.

An international research team involving the University of Paraná (Paraná, Brazil) and the University of Tübingen (Tübingen, Germany) has developed the new rapid test that can reliably identify COVID-19 antibodies in the blood within minutes. The new process is based on a simple measuring principle, making it easy to carry out without expensive instruments and is therefore, suitable for use at mobile testing centers or by laboratories in less economically developed regions. The new diagnostic method is also far faster than the ELISA procedure, which for decades has been seen as the gold standard for laboratory diagnosis of antibodies.

The new test is based on magnetic nanoparticles that are coated with viral antigens. To conduct the test, blood serum or blood is applied to the test surface. After roughly two minutes, the nanoparticles are washed and treated with a developer reagent. If the blood sample displays antibodies to coronavirus, a color change occurs. While the traditional ELISA test produces results after about three hours, study results show that the new method only takes 12 minutes. Positive and negative results can be established simply with the naked eye, and by using additional instruments, such as a microplate reader, the precision of the test can be further increased. The total response time is 15 times shorter than that of the classic ELISA test, which means that hundreds of samples can be tested in just a few hours.

In addition, the study shows that the new technology can also be applied to the serological diagnosis of other diseases. There are no reports in research literature on an immunology test for COVID-19 that delivers data as quickly, as precisely and above all as cheaply. The researchers believe that it will be possible to offer the new test at a comparable price to the ELISA test in future.

“Only a small sample is needed for the test: a single drop that contains two microliters of serum is sufficient,” said the study’s lead author, Professor Luciano F. Huergo from the University of Paraná: “It’s also possible to use whole blood, in other words the separation of soluble blood components that is normally necessary can be omitted. It isn’t absolutely necessary to have a fully-equipped laboratory or use special equipment to carry it out.”

“Another advantage over the ELISA procedure is that the color result of our new procedure is directly proportional to the concentration of antibodies,” added Huergo. “In other words, the new method delivers data on the quantity of antibodies and not just whether any are present.”

Related Links:
University of Paraná
University of Tübingen

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