Welsh scientists have developed a convenient, low-cost antibody test for COVID-19 based on dried blood spot (DBS) sampling technique.
DBS samples have been used since long to test neonates for inherited disorders. The novel antibody test uses a single drop of blood drawn using a pinprick and blotted on a specialized filter paper card. The cards can then be shipped to laboratories for testing. Once they reach the laboratory, a disc is ‘punched out’ from the card and the antibodies are released using a specialised liquid.
The test has been collaboratively developed by researchers from the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff University and the Welsh Blood Service. They have optimised the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) antibody test to be used with the DBS method and translating the test onto an NHS automated platform will allow hundreds of samples to be tested at once.
Professor Ian Weeks OBE, Dean of Clinical Innovation at Cardiff University’s College of Biomedical and Life Sciences, said: "This approach could prove important in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic. The test only requires a finger prick sample of blood, rather like a diabetic patient checking their blood sugar levels."
"It will enable testing where distance presents a challenge and blood sampling resources are limited," added Alan Prosser, Director, Welsh Blood Service.