University of Exeter scientists have developed a revolutionary new device that could allow health professionals to test patients’ antibody response to covid-19 in as little as seven minutes.

The pioneering new covid-19 Triple Antibody Test, has been produced by the University of Exeter spin-out company Attomarker Ltd and  is set to spearhead the next-generation of rapid and accurate antibody testing. While traditional tests that require laboratory analysis can take up to 72 hours to get results, the device is able to deliver quick and accurate quantitative results in just seven minutes.

Following successful trials from an initial patient study at St Thomas’ Hospital in London conducted earlier this year, the test device has received approval by the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Crucially, the Attomarker technology is being developed into a miniaturised hand-held “pocket laboratory” – that can be docked to a smartphone – to provide accurate testing at point-of-care, including care homes and pharmacies.

While many of the currently available tests only measure antibodies for one nucleocapsid protein, the Attomarker device can simultaneously test for multiple. The device can test for three virus proteins and three classes of antibodies, giving a more powerful profile of the patient’s immune response to covid-19.

In March, an extensive pilot study for the device was conducted at St Thomas’ Hospital, in London. It was fully funded by University of Exeter alumni and friends – more than 1,300  of whom gave a total of £120,000 through the COVID-19 Attomarker has also begun further testing at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital in Exeter for a combined covid-19/flu antibody test – in order for healthcare professionals to differentiate between patients with the two infections.

Professor Andrew Shaw, CEO and founder of Attomarker and associate professor of physical chemistry at the University of Exeter, said: “The Attomarker team are excited with the high sensitivity and specificity results of our patented new triple-antibody testing technology. We are proud to be working alongside the St Thomas’ Hospital and Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital to test our technology including the combination covid-19/flu test ahead of the winter season, and we look forward to sharing results in due course.”

This article first appeared in the Independent. To get the latest articles when they appear, buy the print edition every Sunday or subscribe to our online edition HERE.