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


Thomas S. Fulford, Huy Van, Nicholas A. Gherardin, Shuning Zheng, Marcin Ciula, Heidi E. Drummer, Samuel Redmond, Hyon-Xhi Tan, Irene Boo, Rob J. Center, Fan Li, Samantha L. Grimley, Bruce D. Wines, Thi H.O. Nguyen, Francesca L. Mordant, Paula Ellenberg, Louise C. Rowntree, Lukasz Kedzierski, Allen C. Cheng, Denise L. Doolan, Gail Matthews, Katherine Bond, P. Mark Hogarth, Zoe McQuilten, Kanta Subbarao, Katherine Kedzierska, Jennifer A. Juno, Adam K. Wheatley, Stephen J. Kent, Deborah A. Williamson, Damian F.J. Purcell, David A. Anderson, Dale I. Godfrey

EBioMedicine, 74 (2021) 103729. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ebiom.2021.103729


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.


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.
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.


Taken together, the COVID-19 NAb-testTM device described here provides a rapid readout of NAb based protection to SARS-CoV-2 at the point of care.

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