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In Research square

Diagnostic tests that detect antibodies (AB) against SARS-CoV-2 for evaluation of seroprevalence and guidance of health care measures are important tools for managing the COVID-19 pandemic. Current tests have certain limitations with regard to turnaround time, costs and availability, particularly in point-of-care (POC) settings. We established a hemagglutination-based AB test (HAT) that is based on bi-specific proteins which contain a dromedary-derived antibody (nanobody) binding red blood cells (RBD) and a SARS-CoV-2-derived antigen, such as the receptor-binding domain of the Spike protein (Spike-RBD). While the nanobody mediates swift binding to RBC, the antigen moiety directs instantaneous, visually apparent hemagglutination in the presence of SARS-CoV-2-specific AB generated in COVID-19 patients or vaccinated individuals. Method comparison studies with assays cleared by emergency use authorization (EUA) demonstrate high specificity and sensitivity. To further increase objectivity of test interpretation, we developed an image analysis tool based on digital image acquisition (via a cell phone) and a machine learning algorithm based on defined sample-training and -validation datasets. Preliminary data, including a small clinical study, provides proof of principle for test performance in a POC setting. Together, the data support the interpretation that this AB test format, which we refer to as 'NanoSpot.ai', is suitable for POC testing, can be manufactured at very low costs and, based on its generic mode of action, can likely be adapted to a variety of other pathogens.

Haecker Hans, Redecke Vanessa, Tawaratsumida Kazuki, Larragoite Erin, Williams Elizabeth, Planelles Vicente, Spivak Adam, Hirayama Lincoln, Elgort Marc, Swenson Shane, Smith Rick, Worthen Bryan, Zimmerman Russ, Slev Patricia, Cahoon Ben, Astill Mark

2021-Jul-20