SEOUL -- A state research body in South Korea has developed a rapid diagnosis technology that can detect COVID-19 mutant antigens. Researchers have transferred their technology to a private company for the commercialization of universal rapid test kits capable of detecting novel coronaviruses and mutations.
As a transmembrane protein, angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (mACE2) serves as the main entry point into cells for some coronaviruses. The Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology (KRICT) said its research team has developed a diagnostic technology that can detect mutant antigens and normal antigens of the COVID-19 virus using the difference in the binding force of ACE2-antibody combination.
The detection of mutant viruses is only possible through gene amplification or sequencing, but it takes a long time and high cost. KRICT researchers used pregnancy testing kits to quickly detect mutant antigens as well as normal antigens in the field. The technology can be used to check whether neutralizing antibodies are formed in the body.
"The results of this study are significant in that they can quickly detect COVID-19 mutations on the spot, and we hope that this will prepare for the emergence of new COVID-19 mutations and novel coronaviruses in the future," KRICT head Yi Mi-hye said in a statement on April 5.
South Korean health officials trust nasopharyngeal swabs for the real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method that amplifies specific DNA samples as the most reliable and accurate method. The PCR method takes hours to get results but it has been used widely due to reliability.
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