Several tests have been developed for detecting the genetic material of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus but these generally only allow detection of the virus during acute infection. Antibody tests are urgently needed to determine the real rate of infection, to understand individuals’ antibody response to the virus, and to identify people who are potentially immune to re-infection. Research published in the journal Current Protocols in Microbiology reports that investigators have now developed such a test.
The published article provides a step-by-step protocol with enough detail for other researchers to replicate in their laboratories. The protocol involves expressing and purifying segments of the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 that can serve as a substrate for immunological assays, as well as a two-stage serological enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).
“Serological assays can be used to identify individuals who were infected (including severe, mild, and asymptomatic cases) and who are now potentially immune,” the authors wrote. “As an example, healthcare workers who are immune could potentially care for COVID-19 patients with minimal risk to themselves, their colleagues, and other patients.”