Development of nanotechnology-based novel rapid test to detect SARS-CoV-2 immunity

Funding: Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)

Neutralizing antibodies provide suitable protection against either infection with SARS-CoV-2 virus or at least protection against severe illness e.g. corona virus induced disease 19 (COVID19) and death. To detect vaccine-induced or infection-induced neutralizing antibodies in patients, sophisticated cell culture techniques and biological virus particles are exploited commonly and experiments have to be conducted in laboratories with biosafety classification 2 (for pseudotyped virus particles) or even 3, if authentic SARS-CoV-2 virus is used.
The aim of this project is to develop a novel rapid test concept that is capable to detect neutralizing antibodies against SAR-CoV-2 and its variants, based on a liposome nanotechnology approach. Liposomes, decorated either with the receptor-binding-domain (RBD) of SARS-CoV-2 to mimic infectious virus particle or decorated with the cellular receptor of that virus, angiotensin-converting-enzyme 2 (ACE2), play a central role in the establishment of a rapid test assay. RBD-decorated liposomes represent functional correlates to detect neutralizing antibodies that inhibit the binding of RBD to ACE2. Moreover, this technology shall be exploited to establish high-throughput assays and a point-of-care lateral flow assay (LFA).

To achieve the desired project aims, different competences are required. Therefore, the project brings together experts from the fields of analytical chemistry, molecular immunology, and virology collaboration with biotech industry to generate a product ready to enter the market. Moreover, this platform can be used in the future to provide a chassis for test assays to detected potent immunity against new emerging virus that might come.

Within the NanoNeutVir consortium, the Wagner Lab is involved in the evolution of those components that provide the liposomes specificity, especially to provide recombinant proteins of RBD variants and ACE2. Moreover, the team will test the efficacy of the established assay with qualified patient sera and benchmark the liposome-based assay against conventional neutralization assays.

Project partners:
University of Regensburg, Institute for Analytical Chemistry - Coordinator
University of Regensburg, Institute for Medical Microbiology and Hygiene
University of Marburg
Microcoat Biotechnology GmbH, Bernried
Mikrogen GmbH, Neuried

Further information:
University of Regensburg, Institute of Analytical Chemestry, Chemo- and Biosensors