Researchers at the University of California, Irvine, have reported that using a DARPA-funded microchip can increase the accuracy of testing antibodies in recovered COVID-19 patients. The microchip allows doctors to characterize the potential effectiveness of a recovered patient’s plasma in helping a sick patient recover. The technology was originally used to study the contagiousness of influenza and other common diseases, but using it has allowed scientists to optimize convalescent plasma therapy.
“It appears that recovered patients have different antibodies that target COVID-19. This tool to comprehensively measure these antibodies will allow physicians to choose the most effective donors for convalescent plasma therapy,” Philip Felgner, PhD said. Dr. Felgner is the director of the Vaccine R&D Center at the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine.
The donor selection using microchip technology was also combined with inactivation technology to further reduce the risk of transfusion-transmitted infections. The pathogen inactivation technology from Cerus Corporation was originally developed to inactivate blood-borne agents, such as viruses and parasites, that are present in donated plasma to ensure that they are not passed on to another. Using both technologies not only optimizes selection and reduces risk, it will also allow researchers to correlate antibody reponse with clinical outcomes to achieve more accurate results.