Faculty on the Cutting Edge of COVID-19 Research
In the battle against novel coronavirus (COVID-19), one of the most critical weapons in development is testing to identify individuals who are actively infected or have already been infected and have developed antibodies in reaction to the virus. Noelle Cutter, Ph.D, an Associate Professor of Biology, Chemistry and Environmental Studies, and Director of the First Year Experience at Molloy College, is working on the front lines of this effort with Universal Biomedical (UBI) as a lab supervisor in design and processing of patient samples to produce a test that can quickly and accurately determine the answer to that question.
The lab that Dr. Cutter is supervising is comprised of a volunteer team of recent alumni of Molloy's Biology Research Program. The team is focused on a test that identifies COVID-19 antibodies in previously infected and asymptomatic patients. Antibodies are blood proteins that respond to and counteract a specific antigen (a toxin or foreign substance). Antibodies combine chemically with substances which the body recognizes as alien, including bacteria, viruses, and foreign substances in the blood, and remain once the antigen has been defeated, a process known as immunological memory. If the antigen is reintroduced, the body doesn't have to go through the development stage of creating an effective antibody.
This likely provides immunity against re-infection, which could mean that individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 could safely interact with infected people - which would be particularly important to healthcare workers treating COVID-19-positive patients. In addition, knowing who has already been infected is an invaluable tool in understanding how widespread the virus is.