Simple assay to assess antibody-dependent enhancement of SARS-CoV-2
Antibodies are one of our main immune defences against invading pathogens. However, for some viruses, under certain conditions, antibodies can provide a means for enhanced virus entry and replication in a number of cell types. This phenomenon, known as antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE), often exacerbates disease and is a major challenge for prevention of viral disease by vaccination. ADE has been demonstrated for several human and animal coronaviruses, so there is concern that ADE may increase COVID‑19 disease during natural infection or following vaccination. The goal of this proposal is to develop a test for human serum samples that will detect ADE of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This assay will be relatively simple to perform and will allow high-throughput screening of human serum samples in clinical laboratories. It will allow physicians and scientists to assess whether antibodies produced in response to natural infection or vaccination may predispose an individual to ADE, and potentially more severe disease. In addition, to better understand the importance of ADE in SARS-CoV-2 infection, we will further investigate this phenomenon in biologically-relevant circulating human immune cells.