Qiagen has launched a new COVID-19 blood test designed for researchers trying to uncover the intricacies of the body’s immune response to the novel coronavirus.
The test detects the activity of a type of white blood cell known as T-cells, some of which hunt for invading viruses and infected cells. According to the company, studies have shown that T-cell responses against the novel coronavirus can last longer than the production of certain antibodies—which can help researchers who want to measure long-term immunity.
There is also evidence that T-cell responses can help predict the severity of an infection in a COVID-19 patient, as well as their potential level of protection against the virus after recovery or taking a vaccine.
“The more we know about the novel coronavirus, the better equipped the world will be to stop the pandemic,” Qiagen CEO Thierry Bernard said. “Research suggests that testing T-cell response could provide valuable insights into the novel coronavirus and how our immune system responds to it.”
The research-use only COVID-19 test is based on Qiagen’s QuantiFERON platform, also used to test for latent tuberculosis and other pathogens.
Last month, Qiagen launched a COVID-19 collaboration with TScan Therapeutics, a startup focused on identifying new targets for T-cell-based therapies in blood cancers and solid tumors.
The diagnostic maker aims to tap into TScan’s genome-based, high-throughput discovery platform for T-cell receptors, to help develop new in vitro lab tests—including additional future components for the QuantiFERON coronavirus research test.