Image: Salimetrics

Since COVID-19 began its global rampage, researchers have scrambled to better understand the natural protective immunity that humans develop after exposure to the virus. As states grappled with the effects of the pandemic and made strides toward entering phased reopening, antibody tests have taken center stage as a possible tool in helping people manage their health, return to work and reconnect with loved ones safely.

Until recently, researchers had to draw blood or collect Oral Mucosal Transudate (OMT) to test for COVID-19 antibodies, protective proteins that the human immune system produces in response to exposure to a pathogen. But in mid-March, Salimetrics announced its launch of saliva-based testing that’s highly-sensitive, highly-specific and optimized for easy-to-collect whole saliva samples, providing a game-changing solution that makes things easier for study participants, those overseeing sample collection and researchers alike. Whole saliva does not require any specialized collection protocols or devices and can easily be collected from participants.

It’s an opportunity like no other. Being able to use whole, easy-to-collect saliva samples to reliably test for antibodies to a combination of three of the antigens associated with COVID-19 gives researchers a new avenue to gain much-needed data. It also represents the opportunity for widespread surveillance techniques to help take us all into the post-pandemic world.

Using a fit-for-purpose validation procedure, the Salimetrics team was able to establish a high, 95% sensitivity and 99% specificity test for detecting SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in saliva. Prior to this offering, the standard practice for antibody testing required a blood sample to assess seroconversion – the transition from viral infection to testing positive for having antibodies.

Salimetrics’ Director of Technical Applications, Supriya Gaitonde, Ph.D., explains, “Using saliva as a biospecimen is a convenient and effective noninvasive solution for multi-sample, longitudinal or large-scale public health and epidemiological studies.”

Convenience isn’t the only benefit to saliva-based testing. It’s also a cost-effective tool that researchers can routinely use to track natural immune response to COVID-19 and the immune response to the vaccine over time. Plus, because it’s easier to use and doesn’t require supervision by healthcare staff, saliva-based testing opens the door to facilitating home-based sampling without the need for extensive training, expanding potential access to individual testing.

The Science Behind the Innovation

Salimetrics’ SARS-CoV-2 antibody multiplex assay provides anti-SARS-COV-2 immunoglobulin (IgG) detection, which tells researchers whether the sample contains antibodies. Part of what makes it so special is that it uses electrochemiluminescence technology to detect antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 Nucleocapsid, Spike 1 and Spike 1 Receptor Binding Domain in a single sample.

Salimetrics’ SARS-CoV-2 IgG Antibody Multiplex Assay is based off of an industry-leading serum assay that was utilized in the COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials. The team leveraged its expert knowledge, bringing key components together to create protocols that optimized the assay’s performance in saliva. Additionally, the data it provides gives researchers a simple way to use antibody testing to keep their fingers on the pulse of the disease and the burden it presents.

Using saliva to support infectious disease research is quickly becoming a topic of interest among researchers. Salimetrics has collaborated with several pilots for both large national and international studies.

“We’re here to support researchers,” says Dr. Gaitonde. “We service a large academic and translational salivary bioscience community. We also service research institutions and contract research organizations who are actively studying the COVID-19 immune response.”

Salimetrics recommends and encourages researchers contact them for advice and to make sure the preferred saliva collection device fits the needs of their study’s participants.

Salimetrics LLC is a leader in salivary bioscience, empowering researchers with the innovate tools needed for reliable salivary diagnostics. The company’s story began in Douglas A. Granger, Ph.D.’s lab at Penn State in the 1990s. While all of the saliva testing is based out of the company’s technology center in Carlsbad, California, its Happy Valley-based manufacturing facility is charged with supplying the proper collection devices, which are essential for making easy, contactless sample collection a possibility.

To learn more about Salimetrics or to contact someone for expert advice, visit their website: https://salimetrics.com