New Rapid Test Method to Detect COVID-19 Antibodies


A new rapid testing method for COVID-19 has been developed by scientists at New York University (NYU) Abu Dhabi. It is an adhesive bandage that relies on gold nanoparticles to rapidly detect immune antibodies present in the bloodstream.

New Rapid Test Method to Detect COVID-19 Antibodies

NYUAD Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering Mohammad Qasaimeh. Image Credit: NYU Abu Dhabi

These antibodies, called IgM and IgG, are produced naturally due to SARS-CoV-2 infection and therefore act as useful biomarkers to identify infected individuals and track the spread of the pandemic.

This breakthrough bandage technology is user-friendly and inexpensive and can be tweaked on short notice to detect infections of other pathogens in future pandemics by leveraging specific antigens for elevated pathogens.

This test can be done at home by applying a unique adhesive bandage to the tip of the needle punctured, much like regular bandages are used to cover and protect wounds. It works by nanotechnology-based engineered tiny particles, known as gold nanoparticles, that are a billionth of a meter in diameter and consist of specific keys, called antigens, bound to them that are specific to SARS-CoV-2.

With the aid of nanotechnology methods, these keys have been used to identify and bind IgM and IgG antibodies with high sensitivity and specificity, paralleled by the lock-on mechanism. When this occurs, the color change indicates the individual’s infection status — not infected or infected with initial immunity, active immunity, or immune response — in just a few minutes.

Bandages are available at affordable prices and are disposable, making them promising for large-scale detection and screening. This can be done in public facilities, homes, and in rural areas where there is limited access to high-end testing facilities.

The NYU Abu Dhabi research group led by Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering Mohammad Qasaimeh describes the process for creating this new testing technology in a study reported in Microsystems and Nanoengineering journal.

This user-friendly test quickly and accurately identifies the presence of IgM and IgG antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, providing users with important information about their immune response to infection..

Muhammedin Deliorman, Study First Author and Research Scientist, New York University Abu Dhabi

Delorman added, “Going forward, we will explore the potential of this technology in detecting and screening other emerging viral infections. We also plan to incorporate porous, biodegradable microneedles into the bandages, enabling efficient finger puncture via in-situ puncture..

Furthermore, Imen Boumar, one of the study’s first authors and a former Research Assistant at Qasaimeh’s Group, added, “Our goal is to contribute to improving diagnostics and assisting individuals with their health management, ultimately increasing our ability to fight and control infectious diseases on a global scale..”

Qasaimeh commented: “Importantly, real-time screening of viral infections using tests such as adhesive bandages was found to play a critical role in preventing future outbreaks and pandemics by enabling early detection.

In the future, if large-scale use of such adhesive bandage tests is combined with smartphone readouts and dedicated mobile apps, this opens up the possibility of generating location-based heat maps by local governments and health authorities to enable early identification of infected individuals, including those with asymptomatic.

Mohammad Qasaimeh, Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering, New York University Abu Dhabi

Qasaimeh added, “By quickly isolating and treating these people, the spread of the virus could be significantly reduced, preventing it from reaching the larger population.”

Journal Reference

Bumar, I., et al. (2023) Nail- and nucleocapsid-based colloidal gold assays toward the development of adhesive bandages for rapid detection and screening of SARS-CoV-2 immune responses. Micro Systems & Nano Engineering.



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