New study demonstrates importance of large-scale SARS-CoV-2 antibody

October 29, 2020

Novel approach to measuring antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 Current antibody testing strategies are known for their lack of specificity, leading to a large proportion of false positive results. German researchers lead by Prof. Anette-G. Ziegler at Helmholtz Zentrum München developed a novel approach to measuring antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 by defining antibody positivity as a dual-positive response against both the receptor binding domain and nucleocapsid proteins of the virus. This two-step approach allows for more accurate test results, close to a 100% specificity and greater than 95% sensitivity.

As Ziegler and her group have already been conducting a large-scale screening study for pre-symptomatic type 1 diabetes in children, "Fr1da", they could easily and quickly apply this novel testing approach for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies to their existing study infrastructure.

Results of the SARS-CoV-2 antibody screening Between January 2020 and July 2020, the researchers tested blood samples of almost 12,000 children in Bavaria aged 1 to 18 (who were participants of the Fr1da study) for SARS-CoV-2 dual-antibody positivity. They detected an average antibody frequency of 0.87% from April to July. In comparison to the incidence of virus positive cases reported by the Bavarian Health and Food Safety Authority (in children in Bavaria aged 0 to 18 years from April to July), these antibody frequencies were six-fold higher.

The results showed no differences in sex or age. Almost half (47%) of the antibody-positive children were asymptomatic. In children with virus-positive family members, a third (35%) had antibodies, indicating a higher expected transmission rate in children compared to most previous studies. The regional results within Bavaria revealed substantial geographic differences, with the highest antibody frequency ("hot spots") in the south of Bavaria.

The children in this study were also tested for type 1 diabetes autoantibodies, an early marker for pre-symptomatic type 1 diabetes. The researchers found no increase in the frequency of these autoantibodies. This suggests that COVID-19 and type 1 diabetes in childhood are not associated.

Implications for COVID-19 measures "Our study delivered important results revealing the discrepancy between reported virus positive cases and antibody prevalence", says Markus Hippich, who conducted the study as first-author and postdoc at Helmholtz Zentrum München. "As many individuals, in children almost half, do not show COVID-19 symptoms and therefore do not get tested, virus testing only is not a sufficient approach to receive reliable data on the actual virus exposure."

Prof. Anette-G. Ziegler who lead the study adds: "National antibody screening programs with high specificity and sensitivity could provide countries reliable data to prepare for the future, help them contain the virus spread and monitor the impact of their regional and national containment policies."

Dashboard The study results including information on the geographical spread of antibody frequency is available on the study's dashboard: The numbers will be updated on a monthly basis.

Limitations Antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 can take one to four weeks to manifest, which is why these measurements cannot be used for up-to-date prevalence screening. At present, there is no proof that SARS-CoV-2 antibodies lead to immunity. If this is shown to be the case, the results of this screening could provide relevant information on the immunity situation of children in Bavaria.

About the study The work was supported by grants from the Federal Ministry of Education (BMBF) and the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD). The Fr1da study is funded by the LifeScience-Stiftung, JDRF, and The Helmsley Charitable Trust.

Learn more about Fr1da:

Helmholtz Zentrum München Helmholtz Zentrum München is a research center with the mission to discover personalized medical solutions for the prevention and therapy of environmentally-induced diseases and promote a healthier society in a rapidly changing world. It investigates important common diseases which develop from the interaction of lifestyle, environmental factors and personal genetic background, focusing particularly on diabetes mellitus, allergies and chronic lung diseases. Helmholtz Zentrum München is headquartered in Neuherberg in the north of Munich and has about 2,500 staff members. It is a member of the Helmholtz Association, the largest scientific organization in Germany with more than 40,000 employees at 19 research centers.

Helmholtz Zentrum München - German Research Center for Environmental Health

Related Diabetes Articles from Brightsurf:

New diabetes medication reduced heart event risk in those with diabetes and kidney disease
Sotagliflozin - a type of medication known as an SGLT2 inhibitor primarily prescribed for Type 2 diabetes - reduces the risk of adverse cardiovascular events for patients with diabetes and kidney disease.

Diabetes drug boosts survival in patients with type 2 diabetes and COVID-19 pneumonia
Sitagliptin, a drug to lower blood sugar in type 2 diabetes, also improves survival in diabetic patients hospitalized with COVID-19, suggests a multicenter observational study in Italy.

Making sense of diabetes
Throughout her 38-year nursing career, Laurel Despins has progressed from a bedside nurse to a clinical nurse specialist and has worked in medical, surgical and cardiac intensive care units.

Helping teens with type 1 diabetes improve diabetes control with MyDiaText
Adolescence is a difficult period of development, made more complex for those with Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM).

Diabetes-in-a-dish model uncovers new insights into the cause of type 2 diabetes
Researchers have developed a novel 'disease-in-a-dish' model to study the basic molecular factors that lead to the development of type 2 diabetes, uncovering the potential existence of major signaling defects both inside and outside of the classical insulin signaling cascade, and providing new perspectives on the mechanisms behind insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes and possibly opportunities for the development of novel therapeutics for the disease.

Tele-diabetes to manage new-onset diabetes during COVID-19 pandemic
Two new case studies highlight the use of tele-diabetes to manage new-onset type 1 diabetes in an adult and an infant during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Genetic profile may predict type 2 diabetes risk among women with gestational diabetes
Women who go on to develop type 2 diabetes after having gestational, or pregnancy-related, diabetes are more likely to have particular genetic profiles, suggests an analysis by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and other institutions.

Maternal gestational diabetes linked to diabetes in children
Children and youth of mothers who had gestational diabetes during pregnancy are at increased risk of diabetes themselves, according to new research published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Two diabetes medications don't slow progression of type 2 diabetes in youth
In youth with impaired glucose tolerance or recent-onset type 2 diabetes, neither initial treatment with long-acting insulin followed by the drug metformin, nor metformin alone preserved the body's ability to make insulin, according to results published online June 25 in Diabetes Care.

People with diabetes visit the dentist less frequently despite link between diabetes, oral health
Adults with diabetes are less likely to visit the dentist than people with prediabetes or without diabetes, finds a new study led by researchers at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing and East Carolina University's Brody School of Medicine.

Read More: Diabetes News and Diabetes Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to