Plastics in antibody diagnostics

Last edited: | Sustainability - Back to overview

Hardly any other situation shows more clearly how important research and development in the health sector is than the current pandemic. In many areas, the corona crisis is forcing us to rethink long-established views and opinions. Particularly striking: plastic is proving its advantages and is proving to be an important "life saver" for many people.

“But why does plastic and its properties play such an important role at this particular time? And what do our products have to do with antibody diagnostics?”

easily explained in 5 steps

Antibody test procedure

The test procedure for detecting antibodies makes it possible to find out whether a person has been exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus and whether they have produced antibodies against the virus. In 5 steps, we explain what happens between sampling and the test result and what a crucial role our plastic products play in this process

In order to find out whether a person has already had contact with the virus, the serum or plasma is tested for the presence of antibodies against it. When taking blood samples, the safety of the patient and the medical staff, as well as the absolute sterility of the Blood collection utensils used, is the main focus. Our VACUETTE® Blood Collection Tubes, for example, are used for such blood collection.

In order for the blood sample to be analysed, it is first transported to the laboratory. For this purpose, the sample must be sealed in a break-proof manner. It must also not be contaminated at any time or present a risk of contamination. The tubes must withstand a pressure of 95kPa, be liquid-tight and be packed according to UN 3373 category B. Products from our transport line are suitable for such transports.

Once in the laboratory, the samples are centrifuged. The aim is to separate the liquid part of the blood (serum or plasma) from the remaining blood components. In this process, the plastic tube is particularly characterized by its resistance under mechanical influences. Leucosep Tubes can also be used for separate further processing to separate lymphocytes or mononuclear cells from peripheral whole blood, such as VACUETTE® EDTA tubes.

The fourth step describes the core of the test procedure. Here, the serum or plasma obtained is placed on an ELISA microtiter plate which has been coated with antigens, e.g. with specific antigens for coronavirus. The pre-treated polystyrene plates have specific surface properties that particularly benefit antigen binding. If coronavirus antibodies from a past infection are present in the blood serum of the person to be tested, they bind to the antigens on the microtiter plate. With our 96-well ELISA microtiter plate extremely high sample throughputs can be achieved.

In the last step of the test procedure, the binding of antibody and antigen is now made visible. For this purpose, a second antibody-enzyme complex is first added to the sample. If the tested person has specific antibodies due to a survived viral infection, the secondary antibody-enzyme complex binds to it. The addition of a substrate which is converted by the enzyme complex causes a visible colour change, which can be measured optically through the highly transparent plastic of the ELISA plate. If a reaction takes place, specific antibodies were present in the sample. If no reaction takes place, the detection is negative and no specific antibodies against the virus were present in the sample.

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