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serologic diagnostic tests could put an end to the COVID-19 test crisis
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Advancements in serologic diagnostic tests could put an end to the COVID-19 test crisis

The University of Bologna along with Roche and Hitachi are working on making faster, cheaper diagnostic tests for COVID-19 with the help of electrochemiluminescence (ECL).

Currently one of the main reasons for the rising number of COVID-19 cases is due to the lack of poor diagnosis. Currently, along with treatments, experts are working on advancing diagnostic technologies for COVID-19. The next generation ultra-sensitive serological tests are capable of making more reliable, cheaper diagnostic tests for COVID-19. 

Recently a study published in the journal of Nature demonstrates more about this potential breakthrough. The study was a collaborative work between the University of Bologna and industry partners Hitachi and Roche.

Current diagnostic testing

The center for Disease (CDC) developed a test to help in estimating the number of people in the United States affected COVID-19. Clinicians refer to this as serological testing. 

Serological testing can also be called as antibody testing. CDC is currently using this test to diagnose people as well as using it to evaluate other commercially available tests. Serology tests for COVID-19 use the blood sample of COVID-19 affected patients use antibodies produced by the host body in reaction to the virus as biomarkers. 

Serology testing plays an important role throughout the pandemic by critically determining the full scope of the disease in the affected patient. Many immunoassays from previous studies suggest that an individual contracts the disease by picking up antibodies against the COVID-19 virus, through a series of chemical reactions.

One such reaction is the light-emitting mechanism called electrochemiluminescence (ECL). An ECL based diagnostic test is known to have a long shelf life. The tests have proven to give results under 20 mins of the initial testing and only require a little amount of the patient’s blood.

Latest Advancements

One of the main drawbacks of the commonly used ECL diagnosis tests is sometimes in terms of reliability. For the tests to be conducted successfully, the biomarkers used should reach a certain threshold concentration before being detectable. 

To overcome the above obstacle, the team identified several novel imaging and reactant techniques to amplify the ECL signals. This new finding will help in increasing the sensitivity of the diagnostic by 128 percent and promises to produce fewer negative results. The new and improved diagnostic kits will also be able to detect abnormalities in hormones, proteins, and enzymes which could point out the presence of the disease at early stages, a popular drawback in other commercially available kits.

Lead researcher of the study Giovanni Valenti stated that “Our work represents something unprecedented in the field of ECL because it relies on the enhancement of the signal as opposed to the enhancement of the target as it usually happens with enzymatic methods or PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction).”

He further added that these results pave the way for the development of ultra-sensitive serological tests. 

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