Date: 8 February 2023
Researchers at James Cook University in Townsville say they’ve made a breakthrough in Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) for COVID-19.
They say they’ve developed a new way to determine the reliability of the RATs by using a fluorescent protein with the lowest detectable presence of the COVID virus.
The researchers tested 10 different RATS using the protein to highlight the varying accuracy of each RAT.
They found just two of the RATS tested were able to consistently detect the COVID protein.
James Cook Uni’s Associate Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology, Patrick Schaeffer said the research was the first of its type to use this standard to test different RATs and then compare them.
“This reference standard has allowed us to make very simple and efficient quality control assessments,” he said.
“At the moment, RAT performance is based on what the manufacturer says but they have never been compared using the same standardised COVID-19 protein.”
Associate Prof Schaeffer said the study’s results highlighted an urgent need for the TGA and WHO to push for a standard reference material to compare the accuracy of hundreds of different RAT brands.
“We need a reliable reference standard to rank all current and future RAT devices and ensure that their performance is accurately communicated to healthcare providers and the public,” he said.
“We believe our fluorescent nucleocapsid protein is a promising candidate for this task and will ensure that RAT performance is accurately communicated to healthcare providers and the public.
“At the moment, these RATs are assessed using viral cultures, without knowing the actual concentration of the COVID-19 protein.”
It’s hoped the new standard will lead to a more reliable testing of patients with COVID like symptoms.
Contact: The Guild