As part of our response to COVID-19 we did a number of things, one was to adapt a test that we had been using to see if people make an anti-drug antibody response could be adapted to see if people had been infected with the COVID-19 virus.
We have done this. The test was devised and designed by Dr Angry to contain bits of the SARS-CoV-2 virus a glow in the dark detection system and was designed to go into bacterial and mammalian expression systems for expression of the protein in bacteria (The protein doesn’t contain sugars) or mammals (The protein does contain sugars).
The basic reagent was synthesized in the USA by a DNA synthesizing company and sent by post to Dr Angry. In two days using standard lab equipment, which any university would have anywhere in the World would have, he had enough material to test 2 million people or animals and with some more kit and input from the Leyton Dream Team (Three researchers from Leyton Eats London) that could have been 70 million in 2-3 days. Unfortunately our best intentions fell foul of jobs worths, red tape, paper work , egos, done deals and stupidity. So now there are lots of tests.
Many tests are based on a blood sample. However, you have to go to the doctors’hospital to get one. We didn’t want people doing to the doctors/hospital just to get a blood test as the doctors surgery/hospital would be where sick people would go. So we ask whether we could do it from a blood spot? These are taken at birth from a heel prick in new born babies and the spot of blood is dropped onto a filter paper card.. But once dried the proteins inside the blood don’t degrade. Can we detect evidence of covid-19 using a blood spot. Yes we can and picked it up in a blood sample taken 5 months after infection, that was stored it for 3 months and we detected it is cards sent through the post. So as long as there is post this can be done in any part of the world from any part of the world. It’s ready for the next pandemic:-) or SARS-COv2 variant
Therefore, the Team led by DrRuth devised a research project. The study aimed to look at antibody levels against COVID-19 (meaning you had been infected) in people with MS across the UK. We want to understand the symptoms of COVID-19 and the levels of COVID-19 related antibodies in people with MS. Moreover, we want to understand how these differ among people with different treatments.
The initial aim was to do all of the UK, but our funding we had got was removed due to COVID-19 issues, so we concentrated on our local patients at BartsMS. ProfG and Kit raised the cash to purchase the blood spot kits and the cost of the postage. Our original ethics to collect samples was revolved around BartsHealth but has been amended. Although the original idea was revolved around the occurance of infection, it lends itself to monitoring SARS-CoV-2 vaccination responses. So if you do a before and after Blood spot it is easy to see you responding to the vaccine. However the level should be high and there will be a differential effect between the response to the Spike protein in the vaccine and other SARS-CoV-2 proteins not in vaccine.
If you want to volunteer for the study you can contact us at (mscovid19Ab@qmul.ac.uk) and they will contact you. We are obviously keen to monitor people in our care. We were quick to roll out vaccination. I believe that people outside our catchment area can volunteer and you get a pack and instructions sent a letter to Leyton costs the sample as letter to Glasgow.
However, it is always easier to Watch-One and Do-One rather than read. So one of the students made a video. As this may help you see how it is done, the key is to let the droplet form and it will be big enough.
You will note that there is a sticker with a code on it, and this will identify you.
We are aware that there are other places in the UK and world (e.g.Australia) are doing something similar, so this video will be helpful for that
This video is by one of our students doing a public engagment project.
P.S. I need to say the students weren’t harmed whilst doing this project:-)