Rapid test for antibody effectiveness against SARS-CoV-2 variants

At Duke University, a team of scientists developed a test that quickly provides data on how effectively antibodies neutralize different COVID-19 variants. The test can be very helpful in determining a particular patient’s immunity to different variants, or in determining the best monoclonal antibody therapy. The researchers named their technology the COVID-19 Variant Spike-ACE2-Competitive Antibody Neutralization Assay (CoVariant-SCAN).

As the Omicron variant is spreading worldwide, many people who have been vaccinated fear that they may not have sufficient immunity against such a strongly mutated variant of the virus. Technologies like the test presented here could allow individuals to find out relatively quickly.

“We really don’t have a quick way to assess variants right now, whether they are present in an individual or the ability of antibodies we have to make a difference,” the study director’s Cameron Wolfe said in a press release. “It is one of the persistent fears that as we successfully vaccinate more and more people, a variant may emerge that more radically escapes vaccine-induced antibody neutralization. And if this fear turns out to be true – if Omicron turns out to be a worst-case scenario – how would we know that quickly enough? ”

The test consists of a slide containing fluorescent ACE2 proteins, which are the binding target of the viral spike protein. The slide also contains versions of spike proteins from certain virus variants. During a test, the ACE2 proteins loosen and can bind to the spike proteins, resulting in a measurable fluorescent glow. However, neutralizing antibodies can prevent spike protein / ACE2 binding, which leads to a change in the fluorescence signal and a proxy measurement of the antibody effectiveness.

“In developing a point of care test for COVID-19 antibodies and biomarkers, we realized that demonstrating the ability of antibodies to neutralize certain variants could benefit Ashutosh Chilkoti, another researcher who participated in the study. “It only took us one to two weeks to include the Delta variant in our test, and it could easily be expanded to include the Omicron variant. All we need is the spike protein of this variant, the production of which many groups around the world – including our group at Duke – are working feverishly. “

The test can be completed in just 15 minutes, which is very cheap compared to current techniques for accomplishing the same things. This involves the cultivation of cells and a live virus that pose a multitude of security and technical hurdles.

Study of scientific advances: Rapid test to assess the outbreak of worrying SARS-CoV-2 variants

Above: duke

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