Symposium F.GI01: Special Symposium on Materials Approaches for Tackling COVID-19
Engineering innate immune-mediated cancer cell killing by antibody recruiting macromolecules

Fundamentals/Therapeutics: F.GI01.11: Live Keynote III

Fundamentals/Therapeutics: F.GI01.11: Live Keynote III

F.GI01.01.03 Membrane Based Affinity Capture to Quantify Antibodies to COVID-19

Merlin Bruening, University of Notre Dame

This live session talk is part of the Fundamentals/Therapeutics Live Keynote III. Prof Merlin Bruening, from the University of Notre Dame, and their group have devised a process to use membrane-based affinity to capture, elute, and quantify the concentration of COVID-19 specific antibodies. This technique could elucidate an easy way to calculate the amounts of antibodies against SARS-CoV2 in serum. 

The aim is to remove/elute antibody of interest specific to SARS-CoV2 from the mix of antibodies and proteins available in serum. To make this possible, the team uses nylon membrane and functionalizes them to capture/attract antibodies. The nylon membrane is functionalized with layer-by-layer deposition of polyelectrolytes like poly(acrylic acid) (PAA). Rinsing the membrane at low pH effects in carboxylic acid groups which can be used to then be modified with polyethyleneimine (PEI) polycations. Further after functionalization, a peptide mimotope can be added to the modified nylon which binds to specific protein regions. Preliminary data shows that when using Avastin/serum and eluting them using SDS/DTT, the resulting eluate contains pure Avastin captured and eluted. The next objective was to quantify the Avastin antibody. Avastin antibody quantitation was performed with spot blotting over PAA membrane and observing fluorescence with a secondary fluorescent-labeled antibody.


For calibration of the technique with COVID-19 antibodies, an anti-RBD protein is being functionalized with the membrane which showed a calibrated increase in the spot intensity of SARS-CoV2 monoclonal Antibodies. Data collected from fluorescence capturing of COVID antibodies would be helpful in analyzing if the patient has sufficient amounts of antibodies to have monoclonal antibody therapy. Further developments can yield in an efficient antibody detecting system!



Liu et al. Anal. Chem







Picture credit: Anal. Chem - Liu et al. Anal. Chem. 2018, 90, 20, 12161-12167





Following the third lecture in the session, a panel discussion was conducted. 

The panel consisted of, 

Elizabeth Wayne, Carnegie Mellon University

Kaitlyn Sadtler, National Institutes of Health

Jonathan Rivnay, Northwestern University

Merlin Bruening, University of Notre Dame

Susan Daniel, Cornell University 

Burak Ozdoganlar, Carnegie Mellon University


Merlin Bruening hopes that the research systems would get more opportunities and collaborations with companies that would aid in bringing out a clinical product from labs, such as quantitation of antibodies at a short time during a pandemic. Elizabeth from the panel Therapeutics section focuses on how the advances in diagnostics and therapy-based approaches to fulfill the therapeutic needs during the pandemic. 

Susan Daniel addresses suggesting that the structure-function relation is the key to figure out mechanisms to invent vaccines for new viruses like SARS-CoV2. Susan adds that viruses being non-alive particles, like small nanomachines to figure out how they work in the field. She urges on the shift of using the engineering part of nanodevices to cater the needs of viral detection engineering. Burak comments by stating that with the current lack of scalable manufacturing systems, many companies looking into using microneedle arrays to manage logistics and the pandemic need. But, difficulties in fabrication technology to cover costs and scalability makes them hard to get implemented into vaccines. 

Written by Arun Kumar. You can catch the session anytime through December 31st! Follow us on Twitter for more updates: @Arun Kumar @Materials_MRS


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