Mexican scientists develop COVID-19 antibody test

The test will allow health authorities to know if a person is infected with the new coronavirus

Mexican scientists develop COVID-19 antibody test
A technician working with a medical kit at a lab - Photo: Greg Baker/AFP
English 29/04/2020 17:35 Mexico City Amalia Escobar Actualizada 17:52
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Mexican scientists from Sonora’s Food and Development Research Center (CIAD) have developed a test to detect antibodies in people who have been infected with SARS-CoV-2, which causes the diseases known as COVID-19.

The innovation of the researchers from the Immunology Lab of the CIAD consists of an enzyme immunoassay test (ELISA) that identifies antibodies in the serum of people who have had contact with an active infection, mainly those who recovered from COVID-19.

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In order to develop the ELISA test, they needed the recombinant production of a part of the S protein of the SARS-CoV-2, which was used as the target to detect antibodies generated by the immune response of people who had contact with the virus.

Once the serum is obtained, they can be determined in a matter of hours if the patient has generated the antibodies. On the contrary, the PCR test detects the presence of COVID-19 in an infected person.

These scientific advances have been developed in approximately two months and some weeks are still needed to conclude the last stage for the validation of the tests. The whole process was performed by a team made up of Jesús Hernández, Verónica Mata Haro, and Mónica Reséndiz Sandoval, who are CIAD researchers, along with the students Édgar Melgoza and Diana Hinojosa, and the professors from the University of Sonora, Olivia Valenzuela Antelo and Aldo Arvizu Flores.

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Pros
This test will allow health authorities to know if a person is already infected with the new coronavirus and has not shown symptoms and, hence, has developed immunity to SARS-CoV-2.

Likewise, the analysis will reveal the percentage of people that have been infected in a certain community. With these numbers, it can be calculated how many people is already immune to the virus, which is useful to redesign strategies to return to normal activities since the risk of new infections would be reduced.

Another of the pros of this test is the possibility to identify ideal candidates (individuals who are immune)  so that their plasma can be used as part of the treatment for people with serious COVID-19 cases.

Currently, the team led by Jesús Hernández is looking for the approval of the Institute for Epidemiologic Diagnosis and Reference (INDRE) so that the test can be used at a larger scale in the detection of antibodies in people who have been infected with SARS-CoV-2.

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