The Bengaluru-based Indian Institute of Science (IISc) has developed a new COVID-19 antibody test machine to determine levels of COVID-induced IgM and IgG antibodies. PathShodh Healthcare, a start-up incubated at the Society for Innovation and Development (SID), IISc has made a significant breakthrough in developing a first-of-its-kind, semi-quantitative electrochemical ELISA test for COVID-19 IgM and IgG antibodies.
An official statement pointed out that the novelty of the technology is based on measurement of electrochemical redox activity of IgM and IgG antibodies specific to the SARS-CoV-2 Spike Glycoprotein (S1). The S1 protein has a Receptor Binding Domain (RBD) which latches on to the ACE2 receptors on the host cells before infection.
The antibody tests targeting the S1 spike protein are more representative of immune response against infection compared to those that target the Nucleocapsid (N) protein. Vinay Kumar, CEO and co-founder of PathShodh, said the novel technology can detect COVID-19 antibodies all the way down to the nanomolar concentration. It can work with venous or capillary (finger-prick) whole blood sample as well as serum sample. “We plan to deploy the product in the market in the next couple of weeks. PathShodh’s current production capacity is about one lakh tests per month, and we can scale this up further by augmenting the manufacturing infrastructure.”
Navakanta Bhat, Dean, Division of Interdisciplinary Sciences and Professor, Centre for Nano Science and Engineering (CeNSE), IISc, highlighted that the capability to quantify the COVID-19 antibody concentration will be crucial in estimating the declining antibody response over time and hence its possible impact on immunity against recurrence of infection. “On a related note, this technique will also play a very big role in elucidating seroconversion response to COVID-19 vaccines, and thereby play a supporting role in vaccination programmes in the future.”
Meanwhile, PathShodh is also developing a COVID-19 rapid antigen test on the same platform. It could become a first-of-its-kind COVID-19 diagnostics solution with the capability to perform both rapid antibody and rapid antigen tests on a single platform.