A New Technology to Assess COVID-19 Serosurveillance

Project: Research project

Project Details


The Problem: Antibody testing in blood is emerging as a key determinant in our country’s return to “normal.” However, there are many unknowns, most notably the accuracy of these tests. A NYTimes article on April 19 highlights this problem very clearly in its headline. These tests, which are just coming online with FDA Emergency Use Authorization, have drastic differences in sensitivity and specificity depending on the manufacturer. High false positive rates are likely due to crossreactivity of antibodies targeting other coronaviruses, such as those generated against the common cold. In order for these tests to become more reliable and allow for improved public health decisions, the antibody response must be more thoroughly investigated with more specific technologies, thereby enabling improved accuracy of serological testing and epidemiology (“serosurveillance”). Our Solution: To provide a direct readout of individual SARS-CoV-2-specific antibodies at the molecular level. We are developing a new platform to directly measure IgG-type antibodies using a proteomics approach using into IgG (whole, deglycosylated, or broken into heavy & light chains). Our platform is designed to discover the specific antibodies generated by the human body in response to a SARS-CoV-2 infection with high resolution and molecular precision to help address the open questions about false negatives and false positives for more widespread serological testing using simple test strips. The single-molecule analytical technique underlying the platform ‘GIDU-UP’ is proven and will be widely applicable. Profiling the IgG repertoire from active, recovered and suspected COVID-19 patients from two departments at Northwestern will serve as a research counterpart to asses mid-scale studies using PCR and lateral flow immunoassays. Beyond the current COVID-19 pandemic, this technique holds promise across human immunobiology, including for transplant patients undergoing immunosuppression therapies. Together with Drs. Ladner and Misharin in the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern, we will have solid study designs, COVID-19 patient cohorts, and controls to test the new single molecule IgG readout.
Effective start/end date6/15/206/14/21


  • Research Corporation (27372)


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