Development of Fast and Portable Frequency Magnetic Mixing-Based Serological SARS-CoV-2-Specific Antibody Detection Assay

Front Microbiol. 2021 May 5;12:643275. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2021.643275. eCollection 2021.

Abstract

A novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) emerged in China in December 2019, causing an ongoing, rapidly spreading global pandemic. Worldwide, vaccination is now expected to provide containment of the novel virus, resulting in an antibody-mediated immunity. To verify this, serological antibody assays qualitatively as well as quantitatively depicting the amount of generated antibodies are of great importance. Currently available test methods are either laboratory based or do not have the ability to indicate an estimation about the immune response. To overcome this, a novel and rapid serological magnetic immunodetection (MID) point-of-care (PoC) assay was developed, with sensitivity and specificity comparable to laboratory-based DiaSorin Liaison SARS-CoV-2 S1/S2 IgG assay. To specifically enrich human antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in immunofiltration columns (IFCs) from patient sera, a SARS-CoV-2 S1 antigen was transiently produced in plants, purified and immobilized on the IFC. Then, an IgG-specific secondary antibody could bind to the retained antibodies, which was finally labeled using superparamagnetic nanoparticles. Based on frequency magnetic mixing technology (FMMD), the magnetic particles enriched in IFC were detected using a portable FMMD device. The obtained measurement signal correlates with the amount of SARS-CoV-2-specific antibodies in the sera, which could be demonstrated by titer determination. In this study, a MID-based assay could be developed, giving qualitative as well as semiquantitative results of SARS-CoV-2-specific antibody levels in patient's sera within 21 min of assay time with a sensitivity of 97% and a specificity of 92%, based on the analysis of 170 sera from hospitalized patients that were tested using an Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-certified chemiluminescence assay.

Keywords: COVID-19; Nicotiana benthamiana; Point of care diagnostic; immunofiltration; magnetic beads; magnetic immunodetection; recombinant S1 antigen production; transient expression.