A new COVID-19 antibody test is in the works, here’s what you should know


Courtesy of University of Utah

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – In partnership with the University of Utah, ARUP Laboratories, and Techcyte Inc., Utah will soon see a new antibody test hit the market.

In an announcement shared by officials, the trio anticipates developing NanoSpot.AI, a less than five-minute, easy-to-administer SARS-CoV-2 antibody test.

According to the University, the project is estimated to be significantly less expensive to manufacture than other SARS-CoV-2 antibody tests; potentially making it more affordable than those already available. The patent-pending project would then have the capacity to extend itself to every corner of the world.

Ideally, the trio envisions the new antibody test to be used around the globe to help prioritize who should receive SARS-CoV-2 vaccinations or to easily and quickly detect whether individuals have some immunity against COVID-19 for travel or immigration purposes.

Officials say clinical studies validating NanoSpot.AI are currently underway.

As teams continue to develop the project, officials share the new test will be administered in a traditional sense, through the prick of a finger, the results then being available on the patient’s mobile phone.

The University states that as the droplets of blood are collected, they will then be placed on three spots on a ready-to-use, synthetic, embossed card. One of the spots displays the test result, while the other two spots are positive and negative controls for the test.

“Other antibody tests are available and are very good, but it takes time to get test results back and they’re relatively expensive,” shares Hans Haecker, MD, Ph.D., who codeveloped NanoSpot.AI with Vanessa Redecke, MD, Ph.D.

Both are professors in the U Pathology Department Division of Microbiology and Immunology.

According to the University of Utah, a video explaining NanoSpot.AI was also created to better explain the science behind the assay, demonstrates how the test can be administered, and provides details about the AI used to analyze and confirm test results.

“Based on what we know so far, we believe NanoSpot.AI checks all the boxes,” Haecker adds. “Because it is simple, fast, and very affordable, it can be done anywhere without specialized equipment, creating the potential for us to have an impact on human health around the world.”

Officials state that all NanoSpot.AI test components are provided in a self-contained kit. The person administering the test places droplets of blood in three small spots on a ready-to-use card. One of the spots displays the test result while the other two confirm the test was properly run. Antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 are quickly apparent because the blood spot begins to separate within seconds when the test result is positive.

“As a national reference laboratory, ARUP has a wide view of laboratory diagnostics,” shares Mark Astill, ARUP director of Research and Development. “The expertise and experience we bring enabled what may be the first instance of combining seemingly disparate elements to produce a rapid, economical, QR-code-curated, consistent, point-of-care result.”

According to the team, as blood samples are collected, they are then mixed with a pre-dispensed, dried reagent on the test card, the blood spot on the circle displays the test result shows agglutination, which indicates SARS-CoV-2 antibodies are present.

Following the collection, an image of the card taken by a mobile phone is then sent to Techcyte for analysis using the company’s AI-based image analysis tool.

“Our platform breaks each blood spot into thousands of features that the AI uses to statistically determine which specimens are positive for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies,” shares Techcyte CEO, Ben Cahoon.

According to Haecker, the assay can be easily adapted to test for antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 variants as new mutations emerge. The process is imagined as a platform since in collaboration with AI can test for antibodies against other viruses.

“This has been an extremely effective partnership and collaboration between the U, ARUP, and Techcyte, demonstrating how university technology can be fast-tracked by collaborating with the right partners,” adds Aaron Duffy, technology manager at the U’s Partners for Innovation, Ventures, Outreach & Technology (PIVOT) Center.

As the project continues to develop, the PIVOT Center, which manages the U’s innovations is now seeking partners to further launch Nanospot.AI.

For more information visit: https://pivotcenter.utah.edu/press-release/

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