As COVID-19 cases continue to rise around the world, there is an urgent need for a simple, yet accurate antibody test to identify infected individuals in large scales to inform public health decisions. Development of a rapid, accurate and specific point-of-care COVID-19 antibody test for use at community level remains an utmost priority.
Professor Shawn Li and colleagues at Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry have developed a rapid, accurate and cost-effective point-of-care COVID-19 antibody agglutination test. Li is the Canada Research Chair in Proteomics and Functional Genomics. The test can be completed in five minutes and has greater accuracy than existing tests. To date less than 20 antibody tests have been approved in Canada, yet they are not ideal for community level use due to high cost, long turn-around time, low specificity and/or low sensitivity. Li’s test can use blood or plasma samples to detect antibodies with 100% specificity and 98% sensitivity. This test is also scalable and high-throughput, capable of testing large numbers of samples.
The development of this antibody test was made possible by the $20-million Ontario COVID-19 Rapid Research Fund. Announced back in April 2020, the fund was created as an immediate response to engaging the research community on ways to fight COVID-19.
Finally, as vaccinations are carried out in large scales, vaccine effectiveness must be measured by antibody response to determine immunity. According to Health Canada 70 per cent of the population will need to be vaccinated to safeguard against further pandemic level spread of the virus and having an accurate antibody test will help measure that figure. Therefore, there is an urgent need to develop highly specific, rapid and accurate COVID-19 point-of-care antibody test that can be implemented at the community level.
WORLDiscoveries, Western University’s technology transfer office has applied for a US Provisional Patent around the technology, is actively searching for commercialization partners to license and manufacture the test, and make it commercially available to healthcare providers in Canada and abroad.
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