Traditional cellular and live-virus methods for detection of SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies (nAbs) are labor- and time-intensive, and thus not suited for routine use in the clinical lab to predict vaccine efficacy and natural immune protection. Here, we report the development and validation of a rapid, high throughput method for measuring SARS-CoV-2 nAbs against native-like trimeric spike proteins. This assay uses a blockade of human angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (hACE-2) binding (BoAb) approach in an automated digital immunoassay on the Quanterix HD-X platform. BoAb assays using Wuhan-WT (vaccine strain), delta (B.1.167.2), omicron BA1 and BA2 variant viral strains showed strong correlation with cell-based pseudovirus neutralization activity (PNA) and live-virus neutralization activity. Importantly, we were able to detect similar patterns of delta and omicron variant resistance to neutralization in samples with paired vaccine strain and delta variant BoAb measurements. Finally, we screened clinical samples from patients with or without evidence of SARS-CoV-2 exposure by a single-dilution screening version of our assays, finding significant nAb activity only in exposed individuals. Importantly, this completely automated assay can be performed in 4 h to measure neutralizing antibody titers for 16 samples over 8 serial dilutions or, 128 samples at a single dilution with replicates. In principle, these assays offer a rapid, robust, and scalable alternative to time-, skill-, and cost-intensive standard methods for measuring SARS-CoV-2 nAb levels.
Keywords: Biochemical assay; Diagnostics; Virology.
© 2023 The Authors.