McMaster's Ishwar K. Puri and team are working on a rapid-detection kit for COVID-19 antibodies that takes a small blood or saliva sample and uses reagents to “wash away” all biological material in the sample except the specific antibody in question – in this case, theSARS-CoV-2 strain of coronavirus which causes COVID-19.
If the antibody is present in the sample, the colour of the kit will change from clear to either blue or yellow.
"We have a product that is more sensitive and more specific than other antibody tests on the market – the innovation of our method makes it a product that doesn’t give false positive results,” says Puri, who is also a professor of mechanical engineering.
In collaboration with researchers in the Faculty of Health Sciences, the product will enter clinical trials using blood samples from donors which are being “spiked” with COVID-19 antibodies.
Looking beyond the current pandemic, the testing kit can be modified to target other diseases, such as the flu and diseases in animals, including in the poultry industry.
“This is just the beginning. These are not just products, but they’re platforms which could be translated into addressing different needs as they come up,” says Rakesh Sahu, research associate and adjunct assistant professor in the department of materials science and engineering.