The partners have now received financial support from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) for their project, which fosters the development of a new analysis method for determining the individual immune response to SARS-CoV-2. The financial support enables the Project "High-throughput analysis of virus-specific memory-B-cells to determine individual immune responses", or in short "B-cell-immune", and is part of the program "Prevention and Treatment of epidemic infections with innovative medical technologies".
The past pandemic shows how important rapid responses to new viruses, virus variants and unknown diseases are. Current technologies quickly reach their limits, whether due to the large amount of reagents required or the limited throughput of laboratory equipment.
As part of the "B-Cell-Immune" project, the partners are working together to develop a high-throughput method for selectively harvesting and sequencing virus-specific memory-B-cells and a diagnostic kit with PCR-based detection. Memory-B-cells represent the immune system's memory of previous infections or vaccinations. The goal is to highly simplify the determination of immune status in large populations. The developed high-throughput method can, for example, significantly reduce the costs for the health system in the event of a new pandemic and play an important role in political decisions.
The ARRALYZE single cell platform developed by LPKF and the glass microarrays produced by using the LIDE technology, play a central role in the project: By miniaturizing and automating the analysis of single cells and biological processes, the technology makes a significant contribution to the development of a high-throughput platform for analyzing the immune status of large populations.
The microarrays are filled with cells, substrates, or media. For this purpose, the Fraunhofer ILT will work together with LPKF to further develop the "laser induced forward transfer" (LIFT) process. This highly precise and contact-free printing process is used to fill the microscopically small wells and to remove cells. Pipette tips become unnecessary in this context, and the sample volume required for diagnostics can be reduced.
Founded in 1998, inno-train Diagnostik GmbH is an internationally active supplier of a complete product line in the field of human leukocyte antigens (HLA) and the world's first supplier of self-produced PCR-genotyping-assays for blood group determination. inno-train is using this know-how to develop a PCR-test based on new biomarkers that can be used to determine the immune status with regard to specific viruses.
Under the leadership of Prof. Dr. Blasczyk, a team of the MHH, takes over the central part of the biological research with the aim to analyze and characterize biological markers of virus-specific B-cells. The MHH has broad experience as a leading transplant center in Europe and contributes with large resources of the blood donation service to the project. "This method takes the antibody-based therapy and diagnostics to a completely new level," emphasizes Mrs. Dr. Bade-Döding, project leader at MHH.