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Measuring COVID-19 antibody levels could soon be done with a simple test: study

For those wondering about their immunity against COVID-19, a glucose meter could soon be used to detect SARS-CoV-2 antibodies.

In a new study published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, researchers suggest a simple, cost-effective test from a glucose meter for use could eventually tell people the level of their antibodies and how well protected they are against COVID-19.

As of right now, the study’s authors say it is hard to determine how long a person remains immunized against the virus post-vaccination or post-infection.

Researchers have been adapting glucose meters to track other molecules, by trying to tie detection with the production of glucose. In this case, when an antibody built with an enzyme for detection comes in contact with an antibody from a human, they bind together, and that process releases glucose, something a glucose-meter can clearly detect to show that an antibody is present in the body.

But the study’s authors said building the antibody for detection was easier said than done, because it’s difficult to attach the detection antibody to the type of enzyme, invertase, that would create this kind of detectible reaction. Researchers were eventually able to create a unique fusion of the enzyme and a mouse’s antibodies that could bind to a human antibody, the reaction of which turned sucrose into glucose.

The research team tested their fusion using a test strip. First, they put the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein on a test strip, which they dipped in human patient samples. The patient’s antibodies bound to the spike protein of the virus, as they would if someone came in contact with COVID-19 and their antibodies rushed to protect them.

When researchers added the fusion protein and then sucrose, the resulting reaction created glucose that could be detected by a glucose meter.

The study’s authors said that their test works using a blood draw from a patient, but that with increased sensitivity, it could soon be reworked for something as simple as a nose swab. 

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