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Diabetes study now tests thousands of children for antibodies to SARS-CoV-2
Tens of thousands of blood samples have already been collected in connection with a study on the early detection of type 1 diabetes. These samples should now also be tested for antibodies against SARS-CoV-2.
As the Helmholtz Zentrum München - German Research Center for Health and the Environment writes in a current release, comprehensive antibody tests against the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 could help to obtain realistic values about the frequency of infection with the pathogen. Researchers in a study testing children in Bavaria for an early stage of type 1 diabetes now include these tests directly in their studies.
Children's blood tests for type 1 diabetes early detection
More and more children are developing type 1 diabetes. The “Fr1da plus” study: “Type 1 diabetes: early detection - good treatment early” uses a few drops of blood to examine whether a child is at an early stage of type 1 diabetes.
These blood samples are now also used in the fight against the new corona virus.
Together with an existing network of hundreds of pediatricians and under the direction of the Helmholtz Zentrum München, they could now test up to 65,000 blood samples from the Fr1da plus study for the presence of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2.
Cooperation with more than 600 medical practices
As stated in the release, "Fr1da plus" collects blood samples from children in Bavaria aged 2-5 and 9-10 years for type 1 diabetes early detection.
These samples are now to be tested retrospectively for antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 from August 2019 to the present day (approximately 15,000 samples) and continuously over the next two years (optimally around 50,000 samples - depending on the financial means).
The existing sample collection and close cooperation with over 600 medical practices enable the Fr1da plus researchers to carry out the tests promptly and on a large scale.
No proof of immunity due to the presence of antibodies
According to the information, the tests are carried out on the assumption that the presence of antibodies against the immunodominant epitope of the SARS-CoV-2 protein, namely the receptor binding domain of the S protein, could provide information about individual immunity.
There is currently no evidence of immunity to SARS-CoV-2 due to the presence of specific antibodies. As soon as this is available, the tests could provide relevant information on the immunity situation of children in Bavaria.
Important epidemiological findings are expected
In addition to the frequency of SARS-CoV-2 infections in children in Bavaria, the tests could also provide insights into the prevalence pattern and record any differences in region, age and gender.
As the study website says, a comprehensive antibody test against SARS-CoV-2 could also provide realistic values about increasing herd immunity.
It is also of particular interest to the scientists at Fr1da plus whether there is a connection between the presence and number of antibodies that indicate presymptomatic type 1 diabetes and antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 - i.e. whether the risk of children with autoimmune type 1 diabetes could be associated with an increased risk of COVID-19 disease.
Prof. Anette-Gabriele Ziegler, head of the Fr1da-plus study and director of the Institute for Diabetes Research at the Helmholtz Zentrum München said:
"Our already existing large network of pediatric practices in Bavaria offers the best prerequisites to advance epidemiological research on exposure frequency to COVID-19 and thus make an important contribution to corona research. We expect to be able to deliver the first test results in autumn 2020. ”
Tests are not suitable for early diagnosis
The research project is being carried out in cooperation with the scientists Vito Lampasona and Dr. Lorenzo Piemonti of the San Raphaele Hospital in Milan (Italy) who developed the non-commercial antibody test.
According to the information, the test is a luciferase immunoprecipitation test (LIPS assay) against SARS-CoV-2, which works on a very similar principle to the existing insulin antibody test of the Fr1da plus study.
The Helmholtz Zentrum München also points out the limitations of the study: The antibody tests against SARS-CoV-2 described here are only possible with participation in Fr1da plus. They are not suitable for the early diagnosis of an acute infection because antibodies only develop slowly in the course of a disease. (ad)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.