Highly sensitive and specific SARS-CoV-2 serological assay using a magnetic modulation biosensing system

Shira Avivi-Mintz, Yaniv Lustig, Victoria Indenbaum, Eli Schwartz, Amos Danielli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Sensitive serological assays are needed to provide valuable information about acute and past viral infections. For example, detection of anti-severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) IgG antibodies could serve as the basis for an “immunity passport” that would enable individuals to travel internationally. Here, utilizing a novel Magnetic Modulation Biosensing (MMB) system and the receptor-binding domain of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, we demonstrate a highly sensitive and specific anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG serological assay. Using anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies, RT-qPCR SARS-CoV-2-positive and healthy patients’ samples, and vaccinees’ samples, we compare the MMB-based SARS-CoV-2 IgG assay’s analytical and clinical sensitivities to those of the enzymelinked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Compared with ELISA, the MMB-based assay has an ~6-fold lower limit of detection (129 ng/L vs. 817 ng/L), and it detects an increase in the IgG concentration much earlier after vaccination. Using 85 RT-qPCR SARS-CoV-2-positive samples and 79-negative samples, the MMB-based assay demonstrated similar clinical specificity (98% vs. 99%) and sensitivity (93% vs. 92%) to the ELISA test, but with a much faster turnaround time (45 min vs. 245 min). The high analytical and clinical sensitivity, short turnaround time, and simplicity of the MMB-based assay makes it a preferred method for antibody detection.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This research was funded by the Israel Science Foundation Grants 2481/19, Israel Ministry of Science Grants 101790 and 3-16908, and Bar Ilan University’s Dangoor Centre for Personalized Medicine. Y.L. is supported by the Nehemia Rubin Excellence in Biomedical Research—The TELEM Program of Chaim Sheba Medical Center.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • COVID-19
  • Fluorescence-based assay
  • Magnetic modulation
  • Optical biosensing
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Serology


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