Saxon Researchers Develop New Coronavirus Antibody Test

Ministerpräsident Michael Kretschmer bei der Präsentation des Corona-Antikörpert

Ministerpräsident Michael Kretschmer bei der Präsentation des Corona-Antikörpertests. Neben ihm Ralf Hoffmann, Sebastian Gemkow und Jörg Gabert (v.l.n.r.). Foto: Swen Reichhold/Universität Leipzig

As part of a wide-ranging research project, Leipzig scientists have developed a sophisticated coronavirus antibody test that can even be used in the home. The results were presented to Saxony’s Minister President Michael Kretschmer and State Minister of Science Sebastian Gemkow this lunchtime at BioCity Leipzig.

The new test will offer users a clear answer to the question of whether they have already been infected with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. The antibody test offers particular potential for protecting high-risk groups in schools, day-care centres, hospitals and nursing homes, because it makes it possible to specifically deploy members of staff who have already tested positive for antibodies, thereby minimising the risk of infection. In addition, the test results will offer the scientific community valuable data to better estimate how many people in which regions have already had the virus.

The antibody test is called AProof and has been developed in cooperation with the Centre for Biotechnology and Biomedicine (BBZ) at Leipzig University under the direction of Professor Ralf Hoffmann (Institute of Bioanalytical Chemistry, Faculty of Chemistry and Mineralogy) and Professor Jörg Gabert from the company Adversis Pharma at the BioCity campus.

“This establishes an important basis for further research,” said Professor Hoffmann. “To create a reliable test method, the first step was to find a specific protein, which we identified and made available for use in the test in a very short space of time. Thanks to the close cooperation between the partners and the existing expertise at BioCity Leipzig, we have succeeded in producing a highly efficient diagnostic tool that is very valuable in data analysis. I am grateful for our good, close and reliable cooperation.”

“The result speaks for itself,” said Professor Gabert. “The antibody test is very straightforward and provides very reliable results. All it takes are a few drops of blood, which are applied to a test strip. Once the blood has dried, the test strip can be sent to a laboratory. Each test set comes with an individual access code with which the user can register and view the result online. The anonymised data obtained in the laboratories is then available for further research.” The research project is scheduled to run until 2022, with almost 260,000 euros earmarked from funds provided by the Free State and the European Union.

Minister President Michael Kretschmer added: “The development of this antibody test is a good example of innovation in the Free State. The approval of products like this normally takes many months, if not years. The fact that it was possible to progress from the idea to the finished user test within a few months clearly shows how focused the work of all the researchers, companies, authorities and certification bodies involved has been here. This is something everyone should be very proud of.”

Minister of Science Sebastian Gemkow said: “BioCity Leipzig is a well-established centre for research and development in the field of diagnostics and pharmacology. This research project proves this once again. The key to its success is the close links between university and non-university research institutions and companies in one place. This results in products that are of direct benefit for people not just in Saxony. Every euro invested in research funding here is well spent. That’s why the Free State will continue to support the project to the best of its ability in the future.”

Background: Detecting antibodies is an important tool for determining the distribution of the coronavirus in the general population. Unlike the virus itself, the antibodies that an organism has developed against the virus can be detected for longer. This means that past infections can even be detected in people who experienced no symptoms. Overall, antibody tests contribute to a more complete picture of the actual spread of the virus in the population. They also help to better protect high-risk groups.

The Centre for Biotechnology and Biomedicine (BBZ) The Centre for Biotechnology and Biomedicine (BBZ) is a Central Institution of Leipzig University. It promotes research and development in the fields of biotechnology and biomedicine and related disciplines. The centre is located at BioCity Leipzig, which was founded in 2003 as part of a biotechnology initiative launched by the Free State of Saxony. Science and industry work together here under one roof.

Adversis Pharma GmbH Adversis Pharma GmbH is a biotechnology company founded in 2018 and based at BioCity Leipzig. Adversis Pharma sees itself as an innovative service provider for the diagnostics and pharmaceutical industry, geared to the market and its end customers and developing tests as a top priority. Adversis Pharma is backed by a team of shareholders with many years of experience in the field of clinical diagnostics, strategic corporate management and international sales and marketing.

Susann Huster

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