Scientists have developed a new blood test to find out the whereabouts and evolution of the deadly covid-19 in humans. This new test looks for a protein called ACE2, which typically facilitates the entry of this virus inside the cells. This new test can be a breakthrough technique to monitor the transmission of SARS-CoV-2, a new strain in the coronavirus family that is responsible for one of the deadliest pandemics in human history.
This test has been found accurate as per research conducted by a researcher from the UMH-CSIC Neurosciences Institute in Alicante named Javier Sáez-Valero. The complete study findings are now published in the journal FASEB.
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This study was conducted when the world was hit with the first wave of the covid-19 pandemic and there was nothing to diagnose it. initially, patients who showed acute signs of the infection reported having low plasma levels, of this protein which was used by the virus to make an entry inside the cells. The low plasma levels were considered to be an outcome of viral interaction and patients after recovery gained the plasma levels back.
Based on these findings, it appeared that ACE2 protein was identified in plasma and could be used as a biomarker of understanding how covid-19 infection initiated by a simple blood test. Additionally, this blood test can be used to check if patients truly have Covid-19 or seasonal cold or influenza that more or less appears the same.
The study found that ACE2 protein has different types and only the soluble part of this protein interacted with the virus. Many times, the full protein is also identified in the plasma of covid-19 infected patients that reveals if the tissue is also infected during the disease progression.
The research group primarily focused on Alzheimer’s but these two diseases share one similar element, ACE2 protein receptors that were also a prime suspect for Covid-19 progression. This soluble part of the protein is easy to identify with a blood test that reveals if a person is infected with Covid-19 or not. This whole idea was generated during Alzheimer’s research which is a neurodegenerative disease with an active role played by the proteins inside the cerebrospinal fluid.
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This blood test for Covid-19 is different from the antibody test that is done after recovering from the disease. The antibody test is also sometimes called serology test, which is only recommended to check the presence of the virus, after recovery. This test only reveals whether or not a person was previously exposed to the virus and has developed antibodies against it. The human immune system activates from the moment it detects a new pathogen inside and makes sure to make copies of antibodies to save from another invasion in the future.
The US FDA has approved many tests to find out the presence of covid-19 particles in the body that includes PCR testing and antigen testing. Some home-based testing kits also work well where a person can use saliva or the fluid from the nasal cavity to check coronavirus. These tests need a prescription or recommendation from a doctor and the accuracy of each of these may vary.