Qu et al. (2022) ACS Sensors DOI: 10.1021/acssensors.1c02215
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the urgent need for rapid, accurate, and large-scale diagnostic tools. Next to this, the significance of serological tests (i.e., detection of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies) also became apparent for studying patients’ immune status and past viral infection. In this work, we present a novel approach for not only measuring antibody levels but also profiling of binding kinetics of the complete polyclonal antibody response against the receptor binding domain (RBD) of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, an aspect not possible to achieve with traditional serological tests. This fiber optic surface plasmon resonance (FO-SPR)-based label-free method was successfully accomplished in COVID-19 patient serum and, for the first time, directly in undiluted whole blood, omitting the need for any sample preparation. Notably, this bioassay was on par with FO-SPR sandwich bioassays (traditionally regarded as more sensitive) in distinguishing COVID-19 from control samples, irrespective of the type of sample matrix, and had a significantly shorter time-to-result of only 30 min compared to >1 or 4 h for the FO-SPR sandwich bioassay and the conventional ELISA, respectively. Finally, the label-free approach revealed that no direct correlation was present between antibody levels and their kinetic profiling in different COVID-19 patients, as another evidence to support previous hypothesis that antibody-binding kinetics against the antigen in patient blood might play a role in the COVID-19 severity. Taking all this into account, the presented work positions the FO-SPR technology at the forefront of other COVID-19 serological tests, with a huge potential toward other applications in need for quantification and kinetic profiling of antibodies.