Researchers at the Technical University of Munich in Germany have developed a sensitive and inexpensive microarray technology that can rapidly identify antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus in blood or serum samples. The test can provide a result in as little as eight minutes, but the researchers believe that this can be further reduced to just four minutes with additional development. The technology could be very helpful in confirming immunity against the virus, which will help us to identify how long the vaccines confer immunity and whether booster shots will be required.
With vaccination campaigns in full swing in many countries, fully vaccinated people can look forward to a summer with more freedom and a little less to worry about. However, we still don’t know how long each vaccine will protect us from COVID-19, and it is important to monitor levels of immunity in the community to ensure we stay protected. Tests that identify antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus are an important part of this effort.
There are several technologies available to achieve this, and at present they can take between ten minutes and 2.5 hours to provide a result. This latest technique is faster, clocking in at eight minutes, but the researchers are confident that they can knock this down to a mere four minutes with further development. Many of the pre-existing assays also suffer from sensitivity issues, can require numerous time-consuming steps and may only be able to identify a single type of antibody, limiting the data that they produce.
This latest assay, called the CoVRapid test, is low-cost and fully automated, and can detect three different antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 simultaneously. The chemiluminescence microarray incorporates 100 measurements points in one chip. It also improves on the sensitivity issues of some of its competitors, providing enough sensitivity to detect the concentration of the antibodies in each sample.
“We have already developed reliable rapid tests for antibiotics in milk and for Legionella using this technology platform,” said Michael Seidel, a researcher involved in the study. “The system has already proven itself in practical use. Our ‘CoVRapid’ rapid test may thus be deployed in clinics, medical offices and research laboratories in the very near future.”
“The present research begs questions like: How well do vaccinations work? How long does immunity last? When will vaccinations need to be readministered? With its high sensitivity, our CoVRapid will help us find the answers to these questions,” said Julia Klüpfel, another researcher involved in the study.
Study in Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry: Automated, flow-based chemiluminescence microarray immunoassay for the rapid multiplex detection of IgG antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 in human serum and plasma (CoVRapid CL-MIA)