Test Shows COVID-19 Can Be Detected Using Sugars


Researchers at the University of Warwick, Iceni Diagnostics and Coventry and Warwickshire University Hospitals (UHCW) NHS Trust have demonstrated their technology to detect SARS-COV-2 using sugars rather than antibody.

Lateral flow diagnostics (LFD) have been used extensively during the COVID-19 pandemic to allow rapid identification of people with active infection. These LFDs work by using antibodies, which “stick” to the SARS-COV-2 virus. The research team of Professor Matthew Gibson at the University of Warwick worked with Iceni Diagnostics to develop an alternative detection system using glycans (“sugars”), where chains of synthetic polymers are used to attach the glycans to the body. surface of nanoparticles. Viruses commonly use glycans as a ‘handful’ to attach themselves to our cells, with the team mimicking this process to allow detection of SARS-COV-2.

Working with UHCW NHS Trust, the team demonstrated that device prototypes could identify swabs positive for COVID-19 across a range of viral loads. The team also showed that the technology worked well with the cutting edge proteins of the variants of concern, which is a key benefit of using glycan binding technology.

This work clearly demonstrates that glycan recognition technology can be used to identify pathogens, which the academic / industrial team is actively developing as part of a collaborative project.

Professor Matthew Gibson, professor at Warwick Medical School and the Department of Chemistry at the University of Warwick, said: “This work shows the potential of using glycans as alternative detection reagents, compared to traditional techniques based. on antibodies. In addition, the use of our polymeric linkers, which allows us to present the glycan on the nanoparticles (which form the red line), shows the interest of a true interdisciplinary and intersectoral collaboration. This work shows that our approach can work with primary clinical samples, and we are actively developing this into a real world device with our partners. ”

Professor Dimitris Grammatopoulos, professor at Warwick Medical School and consultant in clinical biochemistry at the UHCW NHS Trust, added: “This is a testament to the cutting edge scientific research being carried out at the University of Warwick and the UHCW NHS Trust. The first results of this prototype have shown that it can perform favorably against established COVID-19 tests with regard to cost, time, accuracy and reliability. We are delighted to collaborate on this research.

Professor Rob Field, Scientific Director of Iceni Diagnostics, concluded: “Our ambition was to illustrate how academic and industry collaboration can translate fundamental scientific findings into practical solutions, and this study has proven that we can do this by combining our deep experience in glycoscience. The successful testing of the prototype device and the glycan-based platform will now allow us to advance our pipelines of viruses and other pathogens, and we are delighted to continue working with the University team. of Warwick on this program. “

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