RAMOT@TAU is collaborating with Biological Industries Israel Beit Haemek Ltd. and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to detect antibodies and immune response to Coronavirus using a highly sensitive and specific serological assay developed at TAU

A TAU team led by Prof. Motti Gerlic and Prof. Ariel Munitz, both of TAU’s Faculty of Medicine of Tel Aviv University, have developed a new test to add to the current diagnostic arsenal used to detect coronavirus infection. The unique test is serological — a blood test — and measures the presence of three type of antibodies against the virus.

RAMOT@TAU is collaborating with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to test thousands of soldiers using this test. In addition, a collaboration agreement was signed with Biological Industries Israel Beit Haemek on this assay.

The novel electrochemiluminescence-based serological test, developed in collaboration with Biological Industries Israel Beit Haemek is capable of detecting the full range of antibodies which are produced by the immune system, namely IgM, IgG and IgA. The new test is highly accurate, reliable and results are obtained within an hour.

” The common method of detection currently used, through nasal swabs, is based on quantitative PCR analysis, which amplifies viral genes,” explains Prof. Gerlic. “While this method is excellent in the initial phases of viral spread, it has major drawbacks: decreased accuracy, as swabs are taken five days after the emergence of symptoms; it is expensive; and it does not convey any data about the level of immunity of an individual.”

The new test will allow monitoring and analyzing the immunological response of both COVID-19 patients and healthy asymptomatic individuals and to see the levels of public exposure to the virus. The test will allow for identification of antibodies within the general IDF population weeks after exposure to the virus and development of symptoms.

“A fear of contagion at the IDF could impair the operational capabilities of certain units,” concludes Prof. Munitz. “The tests we are carrying out will allow the army to identify those soldiers who have developed antibodies and possibly even viral resistance and who can continue their duties without the risk of infection and spread of the disease. As we expand the testing and our database, the IDF will be able to increase its operations while balancing its concern for soldiers’ health.”

Keren Primor Cohen, CEO of RAMOT@TAU said:” This test, developed by Prof. Motti Gerlic and Prof. Ariel Munitz is another significant contribution from TAU’s great researchers to the fight against COVID-19. We believe that this quick and accurate serological test will be a core milestone in this battle.”

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