Publications & Reports

A point-of-care lateral flow assay for neutralising antibodies against SARS-CoV-2.

Fulford TS, Van H, Gherardin NA, Zheng S, Ciula M, Drummer HE, Redmond S, Tan HX, Boo I, Center RJ, Li F, Grimley SL, Wines BD, Nguyen THO, Mordant FL, Ellenberg P, Rowntree LC, Kedzierski L, Cheng AC, Doolan DL, Matthews G, Bond K, Hogarth PM, McQuilten Z, Subbarao K, Kedzierska K, Juno JA, Wheatley AK, Kent SJ, Williamson DA, Purcell DFJ, Anderson DA, Godfrey DI
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Melbourne at The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.


BACKGROUND: As vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 are now being rolled out, a better understanding of immunity to the virus, whether from infection, or passive or active immunisation, and the durability of this protection is required. This will benefit from the ability to measure antibody-based protection to SARS-CoV-2, ideally with rapid turnaround and without the need for laboratory-based testing. METHODS: We have developed a lateral flow POC test that can measure levels of RBD-ACE2 neutralising antibody (NAb) from whole blood, with a result that can be determined by eye or quantitatively on a small instrument. We compared our lateral flow test with the gold-standard microneutralisation assay, using samples from convalescent and vaccinated donors, as well as immunised macaques. FINDINGS: We show a high correlation between our lateral flow test with conventional neutralisation and that this test is applicable with animal samples. We also show that this assay is readily adaptable to test for protection to newly emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants, including the beta variant which revealed a marked reduction in NAb activity. Lastly, using a cohort of vaccinated humans, we demonstrate that our whole-blood test correlates closely with microneutralisation assay data (specificity 100% and sensitivity 96% at a microneutralisation cutoff of 1:40) and that fingerprick whole blood samples are sufficient for this test. INTERPRETATION: Taken together, the COVID-19 NAb-test™ device described here provides a rapid readout of NAb based protection to SARS-CoV-2 at the point of care. FUNDING: Support was received from the Victorian Operational Infrastructure Support Program and the Australian Government Department of Health. This work was supported by grants from the Department of Health and Human Services of the Victorian State Government; the ARC (CE140100011, CE140100036), the NHMRC (1113293, 2002317 and 1116530), and Medical Research Future Fund Awards (2005544, 2002073, 2002132). Individual researchers were supported by an NHMRC Emerging Leadership Level 1 Investigator Grants (1194036), NHMRC APPRISE Research Fellowship (1116530), NHMRC Leadership Investigator Grant (1173871), NHMRC Principal Research Fellowship (1137285), NHMRC Investigator Grants (1177174 and 1174555) and NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellowships (1117766 and 1136322). Grateful support was also received from the A2 Milk Company and the Jack Ma Foundation.

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