Quansys Biosciences of Logan released a first-of-its-kind antibody test for the novel coronavirus last week.
Quansys Senior Scientist Brett Baumgartner said what makes this test unique is that it’s the first multiplexed test measuring antibodies against two different viral proteins. The two proteins come from broken-up spike proteins located on the surface of the novel coronavirus that are necessary to infect cells, Baumgartner said.
“What that allows a researcher specifically to do is look at the immune response to different pieces of the protein,” Baumgartner said. “It may even help vaccine makers or other people understand what the most important part of the protein is for future vaccine studies and for understanding how our body is responding to the virus.”
The Associated Press reported more than 70 companies in recent weeks had signed up to sell antibody tests through emergency use authorizations with very little FDA oversight. Baumgartner said because the Quansys test is intended for use in studies and research, it does not necessarily fall under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorizations in their current form.
However, Baumgartner said Quansys has been in contact with companies aiming to provide at-home testing kits to individuals. Once up and running, Baumgartner said it’s possible Quansys could test around 5,000 individuals a day, but they are still navigating clinical regulatory processes with the FDA.
“We want to make sure that we’re doing everything we possibly can to meet all of the guidelines, and we are still navigating and understanding what we need to do,” Baumgartner said. “What I know now is that our test works really well.”
Baumgartner said Quansys could be doing at-home testing kits by the end of the month, contingent on various factors. Other companies would provide the kit, Baumgartner said, and Quansys would test blood samples with results returned in a few days.
“It would just be a finger prick,” Baumgartner said. “Similar to what people do for blood glucose.”
Baumgartner said all Quansys tests are developed and manufactured in-house, but some reagents are outsourced. The company has done everything possible to protect themselves from any potential shortages, he said.
For Baumgartner, more available testing is better for everyone — provided the tests are safe and accurate. He said there are currently many good tests on the market.
“This is a worldwide problem,” Baumgartner said. The tests “can’t be junk, they need to be good.”
Additionally, there are no guarantees. Baumgartner said a positive antibody test doesn’t necessarily guarantee a person’s immunity; the science hasn’t determined exactly what immunity looks like for the novel coronavirus.
“It’s important that people understand that it’s not a test to see if you have the disease,” Baumgartner said. “It’s highly likely, if you have antibodies, that you are protected.”