“Coronavirus, faster, more accurate and cheaper Covid serological tests. Here’s how”


Bologna, 29 May 2020 – Serological tests to find out if you had the Coronavirus, or Covid what can we say, more fast, economic and especially, precise. According to one study it is possible. A research team led by researchers from theUniversity of Bologna has identified a new mechanism that allows to obtain a screening with levels of sensibility much greater than the current ones. The novelty, based on the technique ofelectrochemiluminescence (ECL), is also applicable to serological tests designed to detect the presence of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. And it is destined to have an application industrial, also thanks to the involvement in the study of two leading companies in the diagnostics and technologies sector: the German Roche Diagnostic and the Japanese Hitachi High Tech.

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The study, published on Nature Communications magazine, shows how, thanks to the use of high efficiency reagents, it is possible to obtain serological tests with sensitivity levels up to 128% higher than those currently in use.

“The results we have achieved allow us to establish a new state of the art in signal amplification for immunological tests based on Ecl,” he explains Francesco Paolucci, professor of the University of Bologna who led the research team. “A milestone we have reached after years of international studies in the field of electrochemistry and thanks to a close synergy with the industrial research sector”.

Serological tests are based on the ability to translate into measurable and visible signals the interactions between some molecules and the specific antibodies that we want to quantify. A mechanism in which Ecl can play a leading role, which is based on the generation of a light signal that can be measured starting from an electrochemical stimulus. In this case, therefore, the electrochemiluminescence allows to “turn on” the antibodies to be found as if they were bulbs.

A limitation of this mechanism lies, however, in the fact that in blood human molecules necessary to start the process are present in very low concentrations: therefore highly sensitive techniques are needed to detect the presence of antibodies. And the new results obtained by scholars go precisely in this direction.

THE results obtained by the researchers have not only allowed to perfect the mechanisms underlying the analyzes that use ECL, but have also been used for the development of new reagents that allow to obtain much more efficient serological tests.

The study was published in Nature Communications under the title “Insights into the mechanism of coreactant electrochemiluminescence facilitating enhanced bioanalytical performance” and was developed by a research team from the Department of Chemistry “Giacomo Ciamician” of the University of Bologna

Coordinators the research are Francesco Paolucci and Giovanni Valenti, in collaboration with Fabrizia Negri. Alessandra Zanut, Andrea Fiorani, Sofia Canola, Stefania Rapino, Sara Rebeccari and Massimo Marcaccio also participated for the University of Bologna. Researchers from the University of Padua, Roche Diagnostic and Hitachi High Tech also collaborated.

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