The Astrobiology Center has been developing biochip technology for many years to detect life on other planets, and it has now been applied to serological testing to detect COVID-19 through antibodies. Other research centers in Spain and the Central Defense Hospital collaborated in this project.
Researchers from Astrobiology Center (CAB, Hybrid Center CSIC-INTA) is under development Fluorescence immunoassay And instruments used to detect traces of life molecules in extreme environments for planetary exploration, especially on Mars.
The same technology is also used to search for life in the deep sea, and has now been used to simultaneously detect seabed creatures. IgM and IgG type antibodies A method in serum that can detect the presence of coronavirus in the body (present or past).The project is called SCOVAM (de SARS COV2 antigen microarray).
This fluorescence detection method is slower than rapid detection (about three hours), but on the other hand, it is more sensitive (can detect a small amount of antibodies), has the characteristics of semi-quantitative, scalable and automated, because it It can work in multiple formats (up to 96 samples can be performed at the same time), and the data is stored in digital format.
“The advantage of SCOVAM is that it uses multiple Viral protein Capture the antibodies that can specifically bind to SARS-CoV2 in the serum”, the researchers explained Victor Parro CAB pointed out, “Because everyone can produce different antibody responses against different proteins, there are multiple viral proteins as a feature that can recognize the antigenic pattern of the virus.”
SCOVAM fluorescence images obtained after analyzing two serum samples (one negative and one positive for COVID-19). The yellow rectangle encloses the fixed viral protein, in duplicate and at two different concentrations. The green dot indicates the presence of a large number of IgG antibodies, in this case, it has an advantage over IgM. The columns of vertical dots with decreasing intensity are IgM (red) and IgG (green) markers with known concentrations (number of antibody molecules). The pair of red dots in the corner are placeholders. / CAB (INTA-CSIC)
“On the other hand,” he added, “for example, if future studies identify predictive markers for disease development, SCOVAM can be modified and updated to detect antibodies and markers of inflammation at the same time.”
The business test compliance rate exceeds 91%
The CAB-developed method agrees more than 91% with commercial tests and, in some cases, can correct false negative results of commercial tests. Polymerase chain reaction (Polymerization chain reaction).
Paro pointed out: “It should be noted that there is a 9% difference between the SCOVAM method and the commercial method, because all methods have a certain range of uncertainties, and it is impossible to distinguish the positive results from the results produced by the negative serum.”
If only samples from hospital admissions or the medical profession are used, methods for detecting viruses (including RNA by RTPCR) and serum antigens may be biased.
Therefore, the CAB and the microbiology laboratory Central Defense Hospital “Gomez Ulla” They are currently conducting a voluntary and random serological study with the goal of verifying SCOVAM in samples without significant bias.
In addition to identifying the incidence of COVID-19 in this group, the immune load against the virus will be monitored over time so that the antibody concentration and its pBlood epidemic.
“SCOVAM is a powerful tool for studying the existence of antigen-antibody patterns between positive sera, and even inferring interactions with higher neutralization capabilities; at the same time, it can also be used as a method to monitor the effectiveness of future vaccines,” Paro pointed out.
Scientists from the research team participated in this project. Luis Enjuanes inside CSIC National Biotechnology Center, Who provided the RNA samples; “Gomez Ullah” Central Defense Hospital, provided the samples and comparative studies; this Genome Regulatory Center (CRG) From Barcelona; this Center for Molecular Medicine and Chronic Disease Research (CIMUS) From the University of Santiago de Compostela; Eurofins Ingenasa has provided viral proteins for testing.