UNC-Chapel Hill Researchers Create New Type of COVID-19 Antibody Test

University of North Carolina School of Medicine

Newswise — CHAPEL HILL – June 11, 2020 – As the COVID-19 pandemic continues with many thousands of new infections reported each day, there is a need for widely applicable surveillance testing to gain a better understanding of infection rates, especially the number of infections in people with mild or no symptoms, who can still be carriers. UNC School of Medicine scientists and colleagues developed a new kind of antibody test – a simplified experimental assay that could be ramped up to test thousands of blood samples at labs that do not have the resources of commercial labs and large academic medical centers.

The researchers, who published their work in Science Immunology, created a blood test to pinpoint SARS-CoV-2 antibodies that target one unique piece of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. That piece is called a receptor binding domain, or RBD. Their RBD-based antibody test can measure the levels of that domain, which they found correlate to the levels of the all-important neutralizing antibodies that provide immunity.

The RBD of the spike protein in SARS-CoV-2 is not shared among other known human or animal coronaviruses. Therefore, antibodies against this domain are likely to be highly specific to SARS-CoV-2, and so these antibodies reveal if an individual has been exposed to the virus that can cause COVID-19. Indeed, when the researchers tested blood collected from people exposed to other coronaviruses, none had antibodies to the RBD of SARS-CoV-2.

“Our assay is extremely specific for antibodies to the virus that causes COVID-19, which is not the case for some currently available antibody tests,” said co-senior author Aravinda de Silva, professor of microbiology and immunology and member of the UNC Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases. “Our results strongly support the use of RBD-based antibody assays for population-level surveillance and as a correlate of the neutralizing antibody levels in people who have recovered from SARS-CoV-2 infections.”

First and co-senior author Prem Lakshmanane, PhD, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology at UNC, said, “We are now further streamlining our test into an inexpensive assay, so that instead of the test taking four to five hours to complete, our assay could be completed in about 70 minutes without compromising quality.”

During the UNC-Chapel Hill campus shutdown, Lakshmanane led a team of researchers including Ramesh Jadi, PhD, Bruno Segovia-Chumbez, and Rajendra Raut, PhD – each designated as an emergency employee – to develop the test from scratch. The team designed new antigens and used a large panel of SARS-CoV-2 patients and control human and animal samples. From day nine after the onset of symptoms and thereafter, the UNC assay allowed the researchers to accurately identify RBD-based antibodies to SARS-CoV-2. 

World-renowned coronavirus expert Ralph Baric, PhD, Kenan Distinguished Professor of Epidemiology at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, developed an assay to measure neutralizing antibodies in clinical samples. Assays for measuring neutralizing antibodies take about three days to complete and often require special high-containment facilities necessary for safely working with infectious viruses. The de Silva Lab collaborated with David Martinez, PhD, in the Baric laboratory to test if the RBD-based antibody levels in patients correlated with levels of neutralizing antibodies found in the Baric assay.

“We observed a robust correlation between levels of RBD-binding antibodies and SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies in individual samples,” Lakshmanane said. “This means our assay not only identifies people exposed to SARS-CoV-2, but it can also be used to predict levels of neutralizing antibodies and to identify potential donors for plasma therapy.”

The UNC-Chapel Hill researchers have received requests from scientists across the country and around the world for assistance with establishing this new assay within their research laboratories to monitor people for SARS-CoV-2 infection.

“We don’t see our research as a means to replace commercial tests,” said de Silva, a world-renowned arbovirus researcher. “Commercial tests are critical, especially for making decisions about the clinical management of individual patients. But it’s too early in the pandemic to know if the commercial assays are suitable for identifying people who experienced very mild or no disease after infection or if the assays tell us anything about protective immunity, as researchers are still learning about this virus.”

He added, “It’s important for researchers to stay engaged, to monitor antibody responses and other biological details, and to fine tune assays to meet the different needs of individual patients, the public health community, and vaccine developers.”

Other authors are Bruno Segovia-Chumbez, Ramesh Jadi, David R. Martinez, Rajendra Raut, Alena Markmann, Caleb Cornaby, Luther Bartelt, Susan Weiss, Yara Park, Caitlin E. Edward, Eric Weimer, Erin M. Scherer, Nadine Roupael, Sri Edupuganti, Daniela Weiskopf, Longping V. Tse, Y. Jacob Hou, David Margolis, Alessandro Sette, Matthew H. Collins, John Schmitz, and Ralph S. Baric.

The University of North Carolina School of Medicine, the National Institutes of Health, and the Burroughs Welcome Fund Postdoctoral Enrichment Program funded this research.

 

 

SEE ORIGINAL STUDY



Filters close

Showing results

110 of 5809
Newswise: 267646_web.jpg
Released: 11-Jun-2021 2:10 PM EDT
Saliva can be more effective than nasopharyngeal swabs for COVID-19 testing
Elsevier

The collection of nasopharyngeal swab (NPS) samples for COVID-19 diagnostic testing poses challenges including exposure risk to healthcare workers and supply chain constraints.

Released: 11-Jun-2021 1:25 PM EDT
Physical Activity May Curb Health Care Worker Burnout
University of Georgia

More physical activity programming could mitigate the effects of stress and improve worker mental and emotional health.

Newswise: AI Predicts How Patients with Viral Infections, Including COVID-19, Will Fare
9-Jun-2021 6:05 PM EDT
AI Predicts How Patients with Viral Infections, Including COVID-19, Will Fare
University of California San Diego Health

UC San Diego School of Medicine researchers discovered gene expression patterns associated with pandemic viral infections, providing a map to help define patients’ immune responses, measure disease severity, predict outcomes and test therapies — for current and future pandemics.

Released: 10-Jun-2021 5:35 PM EDT
Senolíticos reducen síntomas de COVID-19 en estudios preclínicos
Mayo Clinic

Los investigadores de Mayo Clinic y sus colegas de la Universidad de Minnesota demostraron que la COVID-19 exacerba las consecuencias nocivas de las células senescentes en el cuerpo. En estudios preclínicos, los fármacos senolíticos descubiertos en Mayo redujeron considerablemente la inflamación, la enfermedad y la mortalidad debida a la infección por covid en ratones ancianos. Los resultados se publican en la revista Science.

Released: 10-Jun-2021 5:30 PM EDT
Senolíticos reduzem os sintomas de COVID-19 em estudos pré-clínicos
Mayo Clinic

Os pesquisadores da Mayo Clinic e colegas da Universidade de Minnesota mostraram que o COVID-19 intensifica o impacto prejudicial das células senescentes no corpo. Em estudos pré-clínicos, os medicamentos senolíticos descobertos na Mayo reduziram significativamente a inflamação, a gravidade da doença e a mortalidade da infecção por COVID em camundongos mais velhos. Essas conclusões foram publicadas na revista Science.

Newswise: FresnoSTateVaxImage2.jpg
Released: 10-Jun-2021 5:25 PM EDT
CSU Campuses Join COVID-19 College Vaccine Challenge
California State University (CSU) Chancellor's Office

The CSU pledges to be a Vaccine Champion University as part of new White House effort aimed at increasing vaccinations for younger Americans.

Released: 10-Jun-2021 5:05 PM EDT
الأدوية المحللة للشيخوخة تقلل من أعراض فيروس كورونا المستجد (كوفيد-19) في الدراسات ما قبل السريرية
Mayo Clinic

أظهر باحثو مايو كلينك وزملاؤهم في جامعة مينيسوتا أن فيروس كورونا المستجد (كوفيد-19) يفاقم التأثير الضار للخلايا الشائخة في الجسم. ففي الدراسات ما قبل السريرية، قللت الأدوية المحللة لالشيخوخة التي تم اكتشافها في مايو بشكل كبير من الالتهاب والمرض والوفيات الناجمة عن عَدوى فيروس كورونا المستجد في الفئران الأكبر سنًا. النتائج منشورة في مجلة ساينس.

7-Jun-2021 7:05 AM EDT
Study Examines the Effects of COVID-19 on Human Kidney Cells
American Society of Nephrology (ASN)

• The virus that causes COVID-19 can infect and replicate in human kidney cells, but this does not typically lead to cell death. • Kidney cells that already have features of injury may be more easily infected and develop additional injury.

Released: 10-Jun-2021 4:55 PM EDT
抗衰老药物在临床前研究中减少COVID-19症状。
Mayo Clinic

妙佑医疗国际(Mayo Clinic)的研究人员和明尼苏达大学的同事表明,COVID-19(2019冠状病毒病)加剧了体内衰老细胞的破坏性影响。在临床前研究中,妙佑医疗国际研发的抗衰老药物显著降低了老年实验鼠因COVID(冠状病毒病)感染引起的炎症、疾病和死亡率。该研究结果已发表在《科学》期刊中。

Newswise: blobid0_1623274320110.jpg
Released: 10-Jun-2021 4:45 PM EDT
How does COVID-19 affect patients with cancer? Largest U.S. study shares first results
University of Alabama at Birmingham

New findings include a significant increase in risk of death among patients who had recently had chemotherapy.


Showing results

110 of 5809

close
1.32547