Researchers from MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research have developed a rapid serological test to check the level of protection from the SARS-CoV-2 virus given by antibodies in the blood. The aim is to make it much simpler and above all “do-it-yourself” a test that today requires a blood sample and laboratory analysis. The method developed by MIT works in a similar way to home rapid tests, with a lancing device to extract a drop of blood and the classic kit with reagent and strip with control lines as for rapid swabs.
The result was achieved by developing a reagent containing some SARS-CoV-2 proteins labeled with gold molecules to make them visible in the test. The paper has two lines, one that attracts virus proteins, the other those that have been attacked by antibodies in the blood sample. The intensity of this line is therefore proportional to the quantity of antibodies. A third control line only attracts the gold molecules and serves to confirm that the reagent has wet the entire paper.
The kit can be used alone to check for the presence or absence of antibodies, but the researchers also developed a smartphone app which, by photographing the test result, allows you to estimate the level of your antibodies more accurately, by comparing the thickness of the lines visible on the map. Through this analysis, the app can tell you if it is time for an additional dose of vaccine to improve one’s resistance to the virus and the symptoms of the disease. By changing the SARS-CoV-2 protein mix in the reagent, the researchers say the test is readily adaptable to different variants of the virus as they emerge. The work was published in Cell Reports Methods.