Covid: a cheap serological test developed by a Toulousian scientist

Published by Laurent P. · Published on 4 April 2021 at 16h44 · Updated on 5 April 2021 at 16h23
Another good news in the fight against Covid and detecting the virus… A Toulousian scientist has developed – in partnership with Oxford University – an effective and cheap serological test, enabling to find antibodies induced by the virus with basic material.

An effective and cheap Covid serological test made from scratch… This is what INSERM Toulousian scientist Etienne Joly and the Oxford University have discovered, when developing an antibody test requiring very little material for a very low cost. Costing three cents per test, “the stamp to send the reactive principle costs the most”, Toulouse Institute of Pharmacology and Structural Biology scientist Joly explains.

A test only requiring a drop of blood and a reactive agent developed by the University of Oxford, lyophilized, and delivering results in one hour, visible to the naked eye, “90% effective”, the scientist says. “When tilting the holes, instead of flowing like a tear, positive red blood cells agglomerate to create a button, they are disguised in big virus”, he goes on. A technique that seems like the one used to determine people’s blood group: “the idea of using the red blood cell agglutination method came to me thanks to memories from medical school, when I was stuck at home during the first lockdown”, the INSERM scientist explains.

The idea behind the creation of these tests is to enable the poorest countries to track the virus within the population: “I wanted a test that was possible to run on a hood in the scrubland”, the scientist adds. He goes on and says the reactive agents have been already sent to several countries in the African, South American continents and Sri Lanka. A test is yet not accessible to the general public as it has not been patented yet, but remains available to research laboratories. “So far, we send free reactive principles to all research laboratories inquiring it”, Joly explains.

A reactive agent enabling to determine what variant has been inoculated and could be used against other diseases: “by changing the reactive protein, the test can be adapted to find antibodies against aids or tubercle bacillus Koch, two pathologies worse than Covid-19 and that still cause millions of new cases per year”. A certain breakthrough in research, no doubt about it.

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