Column agglutination assay using polystyrene microbeads for rapid detection of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2

Vidhishri Kesarwani, Julia A. Walker, Edward C. Henderson, Gabriel Huynh, Heather McLiesh, Maryza Graham, Megan Wieringa, Mark M. Banaszak Holl, Gil Garnier, Simon R. Corrie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Rapid serology platforms are essential in disease pandemics for a variety of applications, including epidemiological surveillance, contact tracing, vaccination monitoring, and primary diagnosis in resource-limited areas. Laboratory-based enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) platforms are inherently multistep processes that require trained personnel and are of relatively limited throughput. As an alternative, agglutination-based systems have been developed; however, they rely on donor red blood cells and are not yet available for high-throughput screening. Column agglutination tests are a mainstay of pretransfusion blood typing and can be performed at a range of scales, ranging from manual through to fully automated testing. Here, we describe a column agglutination test using colored microbeads coated with recombinant SARS-CoV-2 spike protein that agglutinates when incubated with serum samples collected from patients recently infected with SARS-CoV-2. After confirming specific agglutination, we optimized centrifugal force and time to distinguish samples from uninfected vs SARS-CoV-2-infected individuals and then showed concordant results against ELISA for 22 clinical samples, and also a set of serial bleeds from one donor at days 6–10 postinfection. Our study demonstrates the use of a simple, scalable, and rapid diagnostic platform that can be tailored to detect antibodies raised against SARS-CoV-2 and can be easily integrated with established laboratory frameworks worldwide.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2501-2509
Number of pages9
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jan 2022


  • antibody
  • clinical samples
  • column agglutination test
  • COVID-19
  • diagnostics
  • polystyrene microbeads
  • serology
  • spike protein

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