COVID-19: A new type of rapid antibody test can give more detailed information on how our immune systems react to viruses and bacteria


A new type of antibody test is being developed by researchers at Linnaeus University and the bioanalysis company Attana. Compared to the binary antibody tests used today, this rapid test can give more detailed information on how our immune systems react to COVID-19 and other types of viruses and bacteria.

The research groups, led by Ian Nicholls and Per Nilsson at Linnaeus University and Teodor Aastrup at Attana, are currently developing and evaluating a new diagnostic platform with the name AVA (Attana Virus Analytics).

Tests have been conducted through serum, plasma, and full blood analyses to study individuals’ immune response to SARS Cov-2 and the bacteriaClostridium tetani, which causes tetanus. The samples have been collected from both the bend of the arm and from finger sticks with promising results, which enables easy sampling where results can be ready in 15 minutes.

More reliable measurements of COVID-19 antibodies

“Thanks to this new platform, we obtain a detailed picture of what antibodies are present and how strongly they interact with COVID-19. This should, among other things, help decide who needs to take vaccine and how well an individual has responded to a vaccine,” explains Ian Nicholls, professor of chemistry at Linnaeus University.

AVA gives a more nuanced picture of how our immune systems react to different types of viruses and bacteria than the binary tests that are used today. A unique thing about AVA is that the diagnostics platform not only ensures that an antibody test is correct, it can also offer insights concerning the sustainability of immunity.

New antibody test for COVID-19 gives more reliable and more detailed answers to immunity
Example of immunity profile from AVA. Credit: Linnaeus University

AVA gives individual immunity profiles

By collecting data on the quantity and quality of antibodies in a sample and then comparing these with samples taken at a later time, an immunity development profile can be established. AVA also offers laboratories the opportunity to validate already existing test results with great accuracy.

The platform can assist decision makers concerning, for instance, recommendations, restrictions, and vaccination. Better tests for antibodies will impact at all levels, from individual to authorities as well as for companies and society at large.

Linnaeus University successfully collaborated with Attana for more than ten years now and this is one of the most significant projects to date.

“At Attana, we look forward to continuing this rewarding collaboration with Linnaeus University to continue to explore and develop our unique technique’s possible applications in diagnostics. Our vision is a general diagnostics platform that is relevant not just at present, during the ongoing pandemic, but one that will also serve a greater broader purpose in the future,” says Teodor Aastrup, CEO at Attana.

In a new study conducted by Attana and Medical University of Innsbruck, a number of individuals have been tested for COVID-19 with both AVATM and EUROIMMUN’s ELISA-based technology. The results show that Attana’s technology accurately measures the concentration of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies with at least the precision of current FDA-approved technology.

Description of results

The Medical University of Innsbruck delivered samples from 6 different individuals in Austria, on which Attana performed analyses using the AVA platform. All samples have also undergone tests for SARS-CoV-2 spike-specific IgG antibodies using EUROIMMUN’s ELISA-based technology in a separate lab in Innsbruck.

The graph below displays the AVA results for the 6 samples along with an FBS control sample. All samples show different levels of general immune system response (step 2), specific antibody response (step 3) and SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibody response (step 4). The FDA-approved ELISA technology validates the AVA analyses since the SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibody response (step 4) is significantly higher in the two samples which are confirmed positive in the ELISA-test.

AVA results from study with the Medical University of Innsbruck

Implications of results

The comparison with the ELISA-results indicate that Attana’s technology can measure the concentration of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies with at least the same precision as current FDA-approved technology. Furthermore, AVA’s analyses show more nuanced results. For example, the two ELISA-positive individuals have distinctly different immunity profiles when comparing their AVA curves. Attana will, in continued collaboration with the Medical University of Innsbruck among others, further develop AVA’s analyses to improve the understanding of immunity towards COVID-19.

Comment from Teodor Aastrup, CEO of Attana:

”This study further confirms that AVA is capable of quantifying the concentration of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies from patient serum samples, at least as well as today’s FDA-approved tools. And although the quantitative measure of antibody concentration is an important part of an individual’s potential immunity, it does not give a complete picture. The aim of the AVA platform is to deliver a “degree of immunity” based upon both quantitative and qualitative parameters from patient samples.”

Provided by Linnaeus University


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