Mount Sinai develops antibody test for COVID-19

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An antibody-based assay from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai could help epidemiologists better determine how and where COVID-19 is spreading, and how many people have been infected. It could also find donors of convalescent sera to treat or prevent the infection.

While the PCR-based tests for COVID-19 detect active infection with SARS-CoV-2, the long-lived nature of antibodies means Mount Sinai’s test should also be able to identify individuals who have recovered from infection, including those who never developed symptoms.

The ELISA diagnostic, which was described in a preprint posted to medRxiv on Wednesday, detects serum reactivity to recombinant proteins comprising either the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the SARS-CoV-2 spike, or a stabilized, full-length spike trimer.

The diagnostic distinguished serum samples from three COVID-19 patients from 59 control serum samples, including samples from donors previously infected with other viruses such as hantavirus, dengue virus and the alpha coronavirus NL63. SARS-CoV-2, a beta coronavirus, and NL63 both bind angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) to enter human cells.

Sera from the COVID-19 patients had been obtained 2-20 days after symptom onset, and the researchers showed the ELISA consistently detected IgM, IgA and IgG3 against the full-length spike construct.

Most patients who recover from COVID-19 do so within three weeks of symptoms onset. The researchers did not look beyond three weeks in the study.

No IP was disclosed in the preprint.

Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. (Tokyo:4502; NYSE:TAK) is developing a therapy for high-risk COVID-19 patients that's derived from the plasma of patients who have recovered. Additionally, according to ClinicalTrials.gov, at least one trial in China is testing inactivated convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19 (see "Biopharma Broadens Fight vs. COVID-19 as Alnylam, Takeda Unveil New Programs").

An academic group at Duke-NUS Medical School has also develop an antibody-based test to detect individuals exposed to the novel coronavirus (see "Singapore Deploys Antibody Testing for COVID-19").

Further analysis of the coronavirus crisis can be found at https://www.biocentury.com/coronavirus.

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