The pandemic virus (SARS-CoV-2) has affected more than 13.8 million people globally, with nearly 600,000 deaths. To date, Australia has reported 10,810 cases with 113 deaths. Various steps have been carried to mitigate the spread of the virus, and the discovery made by Australian scientists adds to it. Researchers at the Monash University in Melbourne have developed a new blood test to detect the positive COVID-19 case in just 20 min. It might help to identify the people who have contracted the virus and also assists in robust contact-tracing.
It was just a simple agglutination assay that can be used to analyze the presence and the amount of substance in blood to detect the presence of antibodies raised in response to the novel coronavirus. The result can be obtained within 20 minutes by only using 25 microlitres of plasma or serum of a suspected person, and with a naked eye, one can confirm the positive case of COVID-19 by observing the agglutination of RBC.
How the test is done
Dr. Corrie, Senior Lecturer in Chemical Engineering at Monash University, has said that the technique has the potential to become upscaled immediately for serological testing. He and his team collected blood samples from recently infected with COVID-19, and also from healthy individuals. The test involves pipetting a mixture of reagent red blood cells (RRBCs) and antibody-containing plasma onto a gel card containing separation media and incubate it for 5-15 minutes. After incubating, a centrifuge is used for separating agglutinated cells from free cells. The test will be highly useful in many countries because it justs needs blood typing infrastructure that is common worldwide.
Researchers took ten blood samples and allowed it to incubate with red blood cells previously coated with short peptides that are come from the SARS-CoV-2 virus. When the patient blood has antibodies, it will lead to a positive case by binding to the peptides, thereby resulting in aggregation of RBC. Gel cards are used to separate aggregated cells from free cells and thus showing a line of aggregated cells.
It was not obtained in the negative control. They identified that by producing bioconjugates of anti-D-IgG and peptides from SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and immobilizing these to RRBCs. In this way, selective agglutination in gel cards was obtained for positive cases, and in the negative control, they either used negative samples or samples without bioconjugates.
This method can be used to analyze 200 blood samples in an hour, and some high-grade hospitals with diagnostic facilities, more than 700 samples could be tested efficiently. This type of blood test might be used in high-risk countries with population screening, case identification, and also for checking vaccine efficacy. The researchers have added that with adequate support and funding, they can begin to manufacture and give away the assay to the community who needs it.
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