British diagnostic company Oxford Immunotec has updated the configuration of its T-SPOT Discovery SARS-CoV-2 kit.

Intended for research use only, the kit has been updated using the company’s expertise in the T cell response to SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Oxford’s previous kit configuration consisted of five antigen wells. Each of the wells consisted of a mix of peptides, denoting target epitopes derived from the coronavirus with areas of high homology to endemic viruses removed.

The new improvements have been made using the company’s results database and include antigens that have shown to induce robust T cell responses specific to SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Oxford Immunotec said that the new upgrades are designed as overlapping peptides to accelerate the identification of the breadth of the human immune response in a genetically unrestricted manner.

Moreover, an additional panel, containing epitopes of high genetic homology, has been included to endemic human coronaviruses (HCoV).

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The panel is designed to facilitate research into the role of HCoV in the immune response to coronavirus infection.

According to the company, the evidence suggests that previous exposure to HCoV may result in the immune response to infection by SARS-CoV-2 in some people.

A recent report on US health care workers showed cross-reactive T cell responses between HCoV and SARS-CoV-2 infections.

The addition of the new panel in the T-SPOT Discovery SARS-CoV-2 kit will enable investigators to understand this effect in more depth, the company added.

Oxford Immunotec Research and Development, Product Development, vice-president and T-SPOT Discovery SARS-CoV-2 kit project lead Dr Magdalena Dudek said: “We have learnt a lot about the immunogenicity of different peptides, and the T cell response to SARS-CoV-2 infection since the kit was first released.

“The changes we are now making take advantage of our growing knowledge and understanding and will enable researchers to have greater insight into the broader T cell response to SARS-CoV-2 infection.”

Meanwhile, last month, PerkinElmer agreed to acquire Oxford Immunotec for approximately $591m or $22 for each of the latter’s outstanding ordinary shares in cash.