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Development of a Portable, Ultra-Rapid and Ultra-Sensitive Cell-Based Biosensor for the Direct Detection of the SARS-CoV-2 S1 Spike Protein Antigen

Laboratory of Cell Technology, Department of Biotechnology, Agricultural University of Athens, EU-CONEXUS European University, 11855 Athens, Greece
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Sensors 2020, 20(11), 3121; https://doi.org/10.3390/s20113121
Received: 27 April 2020 / Revised: 18 May 2020 / Accepted: 29 May 2020 / Published: 31 May 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Detection and Diagnosis of the New Coronavirus)
One of the key challenges of the recent COVID-19 pandemic is the ability to accurately estimate the number of infected individuals, particularly asymptomatic and/or early-stage patients. We herewith report the proof-of-concept development of a biosensor able to detect the SARS-CoV-2 S1 spike protein expressed on the surface of the virus. The biosensor is based on membrane-engineered mammalian cells bearing the human chimeric spike S1 antibody. We demonstrate that the attachment of the protein to the membrane-bound antibodies resulted in a selective and considerable change in the cellular bioelectric properties measured by means of a Bioelectric Recognition Assay. The novel biosensor provided results in an ultra-rapid manner (3 min), with a detection limit of 1 fg/mL and a semi-linear range of response between 10 fg and 1 μg/mL. In addition, no cross-reactivity was observed against the SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid protein. Furthermore, the biosensor was configured as a ready-to-use platform, including a portable read-out device operated via smartphone/tablet. In this way, we demonstrate that the novel biosensor can be potentially applied for the mass screening of SARS-CoV-2 surface antigens without prior sample processing, therefore offering a possible solution for the timely monitoring and eventual control of the global coronavirus pandemic. View Full-Text
Keywords: Bioelectric Recognition Assay (BERA); membrane engineering; Point-of-Care (POC); S1 spike protein; serological assay; severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) Bioelectric Recognition Assay (BERA); membrane engineering; Point-of-Care (POC); S1 spike protein; serological assay; severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)
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Mavrikou, S.; Moschopoulou, G.; Tsekouras, V.; Kintzios, S. Development of a Portable, Ultra-Rapid and Ultra-Sensitive Cell-Based Biosensor for the Direct Detection of the SARS-CoV-2 S1 Spike Protein Antigen. Sensors 2020, 20, 3121.

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