Effective high-throughput isolation of fully human antibodies targeting infectious pathogens

Nat Protoc. 2021 Jul;16(7):3639-3671. doi: 10.1038/s41596-021-00554-w. Epub 2021 May 25.


As exemplified by the ongoing severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic, there is a strong demand for rapid high-throughput isolation pipelines to identify potent neutralizing antibodies for prevention and therapy of infectious diseases. However, despite substantial progress and extensive efforts, the identification and production of antigen-specific antibodies remains labor- and cost-intensive. We have advanced existing concepts to develop a highly efficient high-throughput protocol with proven application for the isolation of potent antigen-specific antibodies against human immunodeficiency virus 1, hepatitis C virus, human cytomegalovirus, Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 and Ebola virus. It is based on computationally optimized multiplex primer sets (openPrimeR), which guarantee high coverage of even highly mutated immunoglobulin gene segments as well as on optimized antibody cloning and production strategies. Here, we provide the detailed protocol, which covers all critical steps from sample collection to antibody production within 12-14 d.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / pharmacology
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing / immunology
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing / isolation & purification*
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing / pharmacology
  • Antibodies, Viral / immunology
  • Antibodies, Viral / isolation & purification
  • COVID-19 / immunology*
  • Communicable Diseases
  • High-Throughput Screening Assays / methods*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / immunology
  • Pandemics
  • SARS-CoV-2 / immunology


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing
  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Immunoglobulin G