University of Michigan researchers advance production of new COVID-19 antibody test

U-M researchers optimizing antibody test

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Researchers at the University of Michigan have advanced production of a new test that identifies antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

The test searches for the specialized antibodies created as a result of a person being infected with the virus. It could be used to speed up how patient plasma is chosen for treating COVID-19 patients and help in understanding the infection rate and the spread of the disease.

The U-M antibody test focuses on the spike proteins on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The proteins have a receptor tip that is recognized by human cells, which helps the virus invade the cells. According to U-M researchers, the receptor portion could help in optimizing the antibody test as it shows genetic variation from other kinds of coronaviruses.

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Currently, epidemiologists from the U-M School of Public Health and the Clinical Core Lab in the Medical School are using spike proteins to make sure that the test is accurate and does not react to antibodies from other viruses.

Researchers have been following a protocol developed by the Mt. Sinai Icahn School of Medicine and have received a grant from Open Philanthropy to help increase production. The research team is made up of members from the U-M Life Sciences Institute, the Medical School and the School of Public Health.

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Sarah has worked for WDIV since June 2018. She covers community events, good eats and small businesses in Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in Applied Linguistics from Grand Valley State University.