Policy & Regulation
French researchers develop a more accurate and fast COVID-19 test
23 February 2021 -

Researchers in France are using tiny antibody particles extracted from the family of animals, including camels and llamas, to produce a test they say can detect if patients have COVID-19 faster and more accurately than existing methods, Reuters news agency reported on Tuesday.

This prototype test, called CorDial-1, has not been approved for use, but initial trials on 300 samples showed a 90% accuracy rate compared to a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test, the most reliable commonly-used method of detecting COVID-19.

According to the team developing this prototype test, it can deliver results within 10 minutes, and can be used outside the laboratory, while PCR testing typically takes hours and needs lab conditions.

The CorDial-1 test uses antibody fragments called nanobodies, which are derived from camelids, a group that includes camels, dromedaries, llamas and alpacas, because they are more stable than antibodies from other creatures.

For the COVID-19 test, the nanobodies are grafted onto the surface of an electrode. When those nanobodies come into contact with the "spike" protein of the COVID-19 virus, they interact to produce a change in the electrical current across the electrode.

When the testing apparatus, a device the size of a large USB stick, is plugged into a smartphone, the current shows up as a signal on a graph.

Sabine Szunerits, of the University of Lille, who is working on the project with scientists at the University of Marseille and the French National Centre for Scientific Research, said: "Depending on the height of the signal, you can say if you are COVID positive or negative."

The next phase of the project is to run a three-month trial on more than 1,000 people, Reuters added.

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