Science

Covid-19: Researchers develop platform to detect antibodies in 10-12 seconds

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on January 10, 2021 Published on January 10, 2021

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New platform can quantify patient’s immunological response to the new vaccines with precision

Researchers at the Carnegie Mellon University have developed an advanced nanomaterial-based biosensing platform that can detect antibodies specific to SARS-CoV-2 within seconds.

According to the study published in the journal Advanced Materials, the platform will help to quantify patient’s immunological response to the new vaccines with precision.

The report stated that the testing platform identifies the presence of two of the virus' antibodies, spike S1 protein and receptor-binding domain (RBD), in a very small drop of blood (about 5 microliters).

Antibody concentrations can be extremely low and still detected below one picomolar (0.15 nanograms per milliliter). This detection happens through an electrochemical reaction within a handheld microfluidic device which sends results almost immediately to a simple interface on a smartphone.

"We utilised the latest advances in materials and manufacturing such as nanoparticle 3D printing to create a device that rapidly detects Covid-19 antibodies," said Rahul Panat, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon.

An additive manufacturing technology called aerosol jet 3D printing is responsible for the efficiency and accuracy of the testing platform. Tiny, inexpensive gold micro-pillar electrodes are printed at the nanoscale using aerosol droplets that are thermally sintered together, the authors explained in the study.

This causes a rough, irregular surface that provides an increased surface area of the micropillars and an enhanced electrochemical reaction, where antibodies can latch on to antigens coated on the electrode. The specific geometry allows the micropillars to load more proteins for detection, resulting in very accurate, quick results, the study noted.

The researchers mentioned that the test has a very low error rate because the binding reaction between the antibody and antigen used in the device is highly selective.

"Because our technique can quantify the immune response to vaccination, it is very relevant in the current environment," Panat said.

The authors noted that the platform is generic and can be used for the rapid detection of biomarkers for other infectious agents. This includes Ebola, HIV, and Zika.

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Published on January 10, 2021
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