Diagnostics for SARS-CoV-2

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The improvement of diagnostic tools not only enables better and faster identification of infected persons, but can also advance the detection of cleared infections with potential immunity to SARS-CoV-2.

Sniffing for a corona diagnosis

A research team led by the Foundation of the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover (TiHo), in cooperation with the German Federal Armed Forces, the Hannover Medical School and the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, published a study on dogs that can sniff out people infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the specialist magazine BMC Infectious Diseases. The dogs only needed to be trained for one week to differentiate between samples from SARS-CoV-2 infected patients and non-infected controls. The method could be used in public areas such as airports, at sporting events, at borders or other mass events as a supplement to laboratory testing to prevent further spread of the virus or outbreaks.

Contact:   Prof. Dr. Holger Volk


  • German Armed Forces
  • Hannover Medical School (MHH)
  • University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover Foundation (TiHo)
  • University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf

more information: Website of the TiHo

Going beyond clinical routine in SARS-CoV-2 antibody testing

A multiplex corona virus test for the evaluation of cross-reactivity to endemic coronavirus antigens

Given the importance of the humoral immune response to SARS-CoV-2 as a global benchmark for immunity, a detailed analysis is needed to monitor seroconversion in the general population, under¬stand manifestation and progression of COVID-19 disease, and ultimately predict the outcome of vaccine development. In contrast to currently available serological assays, which are only able to resolve the SARS-CoV-2 antibody response on an individual antigen level, we developed a multiplexed immunoassay, for which we included Spike and nucleocapsid proteins of SARS-CoV-2 and the endemic human coronaviruses in an expanded antigen panel. Compared to three commercial in vitro diagnostic tests, our MultiCoV-Ab achieved the highest sensitivity and specificity when analyzing a well-characterized sample set of SARS-CoV-2 infected and uninfected individuals. Simultaneously, high IgG responses against endemic coronaviruses became apparent throughout all samples, but no consistent cross-reactive IgG response patterns could be defined. In summary, we have established and validated, a robust, high-content-enabled, and antigen-saving multiplex assay MultiCoV-Ab, which is highly suited to monitor vaccination studies and will facilitate epidemiologic screenings for the humoral immunity toward pandemic as well as endemic coronaviruses.
MultiCoV-Ab will be used in a series of national and international epidemiological studies.

Contact:   Prof. Dr. Gérard Krause


  • Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI)
  • Natural and Medical Sciences Institute at the University of Tübingen (NMI)
  • University Hospital of the Saarland

Funding: 231.000 € from the Ministry of Science and Culture of Lower Saxony & 895.886 € from the Helmholtz Association

Production of recombinant monoclonal antibodies for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles without animal experiments

Development of universally applicable, high-quality detection antibodies for (1) all antibody-based rapid tests for the direct detection of SARS-CoV-2 and (2) all diagnostic tests for serum antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, based on sequence-defined recombinant antibodies.

Contact:   Prof. Dr. Stefan Dübel & Dr. Giulio Russo


  • Abcalis GmbH
  • Technical University Braunschweig

Funding: Ministry of Science and Culture of Lower Saxony, Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy & partnership with a diagnostics company

more information: Website of the Technical University Braunschweig

Mathematical decision-making aids for more efficient COVID 19 tests

An interdisciplinary team of mathematicians, computer scientists and physicians from Die Junge Akademie, the Technical University Braunschweig, the University Stuttgart and the company Arctoris has developed a decision support tool that calculates which method in a positive sample pool identifies all persons suffering from COVID-19 as effectively as possible. Using so-called pooling methods, samples from different people can be combined into a pool and tested for COVID-19 in a test kit.

Contact:   Prof. Dr. Timo de Wolff


  • Arctoris Ltd.
  • Die Junge Akademie
  • Technical University Braunschweig
  • University Stuttgart

more information: Website of the Technical University Braunschweig

MicroRNA biomarkers detected in critically ill COVID-19 patients

Infections with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 not only cause stress on the lungs. The virus also massively affects the cardiovascular system. A research group led by Prof. Dr. Dr. Thomas Thum, director of Fraunhofer ITEM and of the Institute for Molecular and Translational Therapy Strategies at the Hannover Medical School (MHH), has detected micro-RNA biomarkers in seriously ill COVID-19 patients that have also been associated with inflammatory processes in heart diseases. In collaboration with the MHH Departments of Cardiology and Angiology and of Pneumology, the research team examined blood samples from COVID-19 patients who were treated and ventilated in intensive care. For comparison, the researchers also examined the blood of flu patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome, who also had to be ventilated, as well as blood samples from a healthy control group. The concentration of the microRNA markers in blood serum of the COVID-19 patients was significantly higher than in healthy individuals. Interestingly, it also differed significantly from the values found in the seriously ill and mechanically ventilated influenza ARDS patients. The researchers now want to find out whether the microRNA markers enable prediction of the course of the disease. In addition, microRNAs could provide new therapeutic targets in the fight against COVID-19.

Contact:   Prof. Dr. Dr. Thomas Thum


  • Fraunhofer Institute for Toxicology and Experimental Medicine (ITEM)
  • Hannover Medical School (MHH)

more information: website of the Fraunhofer ITEM

RAPID – Risk assessment of pre-pandemic respiratory infectious diseases

Establishment of different detection methods for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 infections in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissues of different species.

Further information will follow.

  • Charité - University Medicine Berlin
  • German Primate Center
  • Justus Liebig University Giessen
  • Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich (LMU)
  • Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology
  • Robert Koch Institute (RKI)
  • University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover Foundation (TiHo)

Funding: Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

more information: Website of the BMBF

Expansion of the infection infrastructure during the COVID-19 crisis

Learn more about this project from Hannover Medical School here.