Brazilian scientists detect Covid-19 using firefly enzyme

firefly enzyme
Photo: Fer Gregory/Shutterstock

A group of scientists from the São Carlos Federal University (UFSCar) in São Paulo state has developed a new antibody detection strategy by combining an enzyme found in fireflies with a protein capable of binding to the coronavirus. 

According to UFSCar professor Vadim Viviani, responsible for conducting the study, a light emission will be detected “if antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 are found in the sample” — by way of a complex phenomenon known as bioluminescence. The research is now examining how much human fluid is required to trigger bioluminescence, which could help develop non-invasive and quicker Covid-19 tests, as an alternative to PCR nasal swabs.