• Programme: BMBF, "SME Innovative: Medical Technology"
  • Funding amount: EUR 1.22 million, of which EUR 1.15 million for Bavaria
  • Duration: 10/2022–09/2025
  • Coordinator: Dr Sonja Molinaro, Microcoat Biotechnologie GmbH

Project NanoNeutVir: New rapid test uses nanomaterials to determine immunity status

COVID-19 has shown that determining a person's immunity status against a specific disease very quickly and reliably can be crucial. At present, conventional tests for determining the immune status require a lot of logistical and financial efforts as they can only be conducted in the laboratory. What is missing here is a simple but conclusive rapid test. Project NanoNeutVir aims to fill this gap.

The concentration of neutralising antibodies (nAK) allows reliable conclusions to be drawn about a person's immunity status

Blood serum of vaccinated or recovered people contains an increased concentration of neutralising antibodies (NAbs), which bind to the pathogens so that they, e.g. can no longer dock with the receptors on the body's cells. In this way, they stop the virus from entering the human cell and thus prevent a (repeat) outbreak of the disease. The concentration of NAbs allows conclusions to be drawn about a person's immunity status. Determining the true immune status requires immensely complex laboratory tests, which makes a correlation with Nab concentrations so interesting. Currently available rapid tests typically only determine all of a patient's existing binding antibodies and cannot provide information on the number of neutralising antibodies or even provide information on a likely immunity status.

The technology should be available as a rapidly adaptable platform technology for other infectious diseases

The NanoNeutVir project, funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF), now aims to develop a new type of rapid test for determining the concentration of NAbs based on nanotechnology. This could also be used to individually test the number of NAbs and decide whether or not a person needs to be re-vaccinated against a certain disease. The technology will be developed first for SARS-CoV2, but will subsequently be made available, as a quickly adaptable platform technology, for other infectious diseases (e.g. influenza). 

The technology is based on nanoparticles (in this case: liposomes), which are filled with dye and carry the virus receptor (ACE2). Once the virus docks with the ACE2, the liposome is destroyed. Since only NAbs can prevent this, the number of remaining intact liposomes indicates how many NAbs are present. The quantity of still intact liposomes can be measured visually or with a smartphone after simple separation (lateral flow assay (LFA)) – as is the case for a pregnancy test or conventional coronavirus rapid test. 

Success story – regional and national funding supports several years of research work 

The foundation of the project was laid through funding of around EUR 553,000 by the Bavarian Research Foundation from November 2020 to January 2022 called: "Development of nanotechnology-based novel rapid tests for the detection of COVID-19 immunity – POCT NeutCov". The following project partners were involved: University of Regensburg, Institute of Analytical Chemistry, Chemo- and Biosensors (project management); Microcoat Biotechnologie GmbH; MIKROGEN GmbH; University of Regensburg, Molecular Microbiology (virology); University Hospital Regensburg, Department for Ophthalmology.

In order to be able to continue the research work after completion of this project, the Bavarian Research Alliance (BayFOR) supported the NanoNeutVir consortium in acquiring BMBF funding under the "SME Innovative: Medical Technology" funding programme, in which Microcoat Biotechnologie GmbH took over project management and coordination. BayFOR helped with the critical reading of the application. In particular, the focus was on the description of risk assessment and exploitation strategy. BayFOR has also examined the possibilities of EU funding for the project and subsequently written an EU funding exclusion for the application. The following institutions are involved in the BMBF project launched in October 2022: Microcoat Biotechnologie GmbH (coordination), the University of Regensburg, University Hospital Regensburg and the University of Marburg. 

BayFOR @ Work

"Thanks to the Bavarian Research Foundation's funding for the first project, we were able to research and scientifically validate important foundations of our new platform technology for the detection of neutralising antibodies based on nanotechnology by developing three different test formats. After the completion of the project funded by the Bavarian Research Foundation, BayFOR helped us select the appropriate funding programme and supported the NanoNeutVir consortium in attracting BMBF funding, particularly by critically revising the application. We are very grateful for this professional support from the two partner organisations at BayFIA. Without them, our research would not have progressed so quickly."

Prof. Dr. Antje Baeumner, Universität Regensburg


Profile picture Prof. Dr. Antje Baeumner

Prof. Dr. Antje Baeumner
University Regensburg
Universitätsstraße 31
93053 Regensburg
Tel.: +49 9419 434065

Contact at BayFOR

Dr. Mikhail Antonkin

Dr. Mikhail Antonkin
Scientific Officer Health Research & Biotechnology
Phone: +49 911 50715-950

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