New antibody test also recognizes variants

Blood tests show the presence of antibodies against an infectious agent, such as SARS-CoV-2, in a patient’s bloodstream. Some antibodies simply indicate whether the person has been exposed to either the virus or a vaccine, while others – called neutralizing antibodies – provide immunity to infection or re-infection. In the case of SARS-CoV-2, neutralizing antibodies work by weakening the spike protein of the virus.

The Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV) and EPFL have jointly developed a new test that is sensitive enough to measure the amount of neutralizing SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in the bloodstream. In the study, the test had a sensitivity of 96.7 percent and a specificity of 100 percent. This is what the scientists write in the renowned journal “Science Translational Medicine”.

Because the spike protein of the corona virus binds to the ACE2 receptors on the cell surface, it is able to penetrate the cells of the respiratory system. The new antibody test is a highly sensitive and extremely precise method to measure how well a blood serum sample can prevent this binding of the spike protein to ACE2 receptors. The test was applied to blood serum samples from 206 people who were infected with the coronavirus. Within a few hours, the test was able to prove whether a patient had developed immunity to one or more variants of SARS-CoV-2.

Use in large quantities

Because the new method requires a simple blood test, it can easily be used on a large scale and is currently only available from the CHUV’s Department of Immunology and Allergy. It can only be carried out at the request of a doctor. The test costs 92 euros.

(The essential / sp)

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