Experts at Imperial have outlined their work to develop effective antibody tests to monitor the spread of COVID-19 infections in a new video.
Researchers at Imperial College London are working with clinicians at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust on a programme of work to develop a ‘gold standard’ antibody test to support the Trust’s testing programme. This can then be used to better understand how the immune system responds to the virus and how long antibodies last.
Antibodies are proteins that act as ‘record cards’ of previous infections encountered by the body, enabling the immune system to quickly recognise and destroy the virus upon reinfection. People who have recovered from infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19, usually develop antibodies. The new tests will help to determine the extent to which these antibodies can prevent reinfection and how long that protection might last.
The second part of the work between the College and the Trust is a study – REACT-2 – to assess a number of rapid antibody tests for their accuracy, and to see how easily people can use them at home without assistance from a healthcare professional. These tests are being run by participants in their own homes to see how far the virus has spread in the population and which areas and groups have been most affected. This information will help shape policy as lockdown measures are released.
This research is an example of the work carried out by Imperial College Academic Health Science Centre, a joint initiative between Imperial College London and three NHS hospital trusts. It aims to transform healthcare by turning scientific discoveries into medical advances to benefit local, national and global populations in as fast a timeframe as possible.