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New Technology Pulls Elusive COVID-19 Marker from Blood to Better Measure Disease Severity

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 02 Nov 2020
Researchers have created a new technology that can detect an elusive protein bio-marker from human blood to measure the severity of COVID-19.

McMaster University (Hamilton, ON, Canada) in collaboration with SQI Diagnostics, Inc. (Toronto, ON, Canada) have created a surface that repels every other element of human blood except critical cytokine biomarkers like Interleukin-6 (IL-6), enabling timely and clear detection of critical "cytokine storm" progress of COVID-19 in individual patients. The same bio-sensing technology can also be used to measure disease severity in patients with influenza or other acute respiratory distress conditions, as well as other infectious and non-infectious diseases, including some cancers.


The innovative technology is a proprietary surface coating that repels every component of blood and other complex fluids, while containing microscopic molecules that attract IL-6, making it possible to detect and measure IL-6 with unprecedented accuracy and sensitivity, at concentrations as low as 0.5 picograms per mL - or one half of one trillionth of a gram per mL. SQI and McMaster are working on a process to adapt the technology into SQI's existing testing platforms, with the goal of moving it into use as soon as possible.

"There are so many possibilities for these smart surfaces. We can create them to repel everything, or we can design them to interact in many beneficial ways," said Dr. Tohid Didar, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at McMaster. "In this application, we have designed it to detect only the one bio-marker IL-6, and this allows us to separate it from everything else in a very complex environment, enabling clear quantitative detection of its presence."

"Our collaboration with McMaster University has led to an innovative pathway to a potentially more efficient and effective manufacturing design that strengthens SQI's ability to provide extremely accurate diagnostics for testing in the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as other critical conditions," added Dr. Eric Brouwer, Chief Scientific Officer of SQI Diagnostics.

Related Links:
SQI Diagnostics, Inc.
McMaster University

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