CU develops more accurate COVID antibody test

CU develops more accurate COVID antibody test

AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — Researchers at the University of Colorado School of Medicine have developed a COVID-19 antibody test that could be more accurate and easier to produce than many other similar tests.

Currently, scientists are waiting for a Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorization for the test. It could come within the next week.

COVID-19 antibody tests can show if a person’s been exposed to the coronavirus and may have immunity to it.

“We’ve taken advantage of the expertise on campus to really start to see if we can bring up a test that’s sourced on campus and therefore, we can control,” said Dr. Ashley Frazer-Abel, an assistant research professor of rheumatology and Exsera BioLabs director, who’s one of more than a dozen researchers who created the test.

It’s taken the team at the Anschutz Medical Campus just a few months to create the antibody test. Although COVID-19, also known as SARS-Co-V-2, is a new virus, it’s similar to other coronaviruses, including the 2002 to 2003 SARS that started in China.

“From that work, we already had a reasonable understanding of the types of antibody responses we should look for in a person infected with SARS-Co-V-2,” said Dr. Tem Morrison, an associate professor of immunology and microbiology at CU Anschutz.

Many other COVID-19 antibody tests are accurate about 85 to 90 percent of the time. CU hopes the test it developed will be about 99 percent accurate. To make that happen, the test will require a full vial of blood, not just a drop. Researchers will use that to look for not just one antigen, but two.

By creating the test on-campus, CU researchers will be able to control the cost and the production. Once it’s federally approved, the researchers hope to scale the test, possibly show other labs how to read it and use it to help public health departments across Colorado.

Currently, about 28,000 people in Colorado have taken a COVID-19 antibody test. Less than 10 percent have tested positive for the antibodies, according to the Colorado Department of Health and Environment.

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