Analytical Chemistry

Point-of-Need Disposable ELISA System for COVID-19 Serology Testing


A disposable enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (dELISA) device for ate-home or doctor’s office use was developed to detect SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. Serology testing for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies is currently run using well-plate ELISAs in centralized laboratories. However, the scale of serology testing needed for epidemiological and clinical screening studies will overwhelm existing clinical laboratory resources. Instead, a point-of-need device that can be used at home or in doctor’s offices for COVID-19 serology testing must be developed and is one of four target products prioritized by the World Health Organization. Lateral flow assays are common and easy to use, but lack the sensitivity needed to reliably detect SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in clinical samples. This work describes a disposable ELISA device that is as simple to use as a lateral flow assay, but as sensitive as a well-plate ELISA. The device utilizes capillary-driven flow channels made of transparency films and double-sided adhesive combined with paper pumps to drive flow. The geometry of the channels and storage pads enables automated sequential washing and reagent addition steps with two simple end-user steps. An enzyme label is used to produce a colorimetric signal instead of a nanoparticle label in order to amplify signal and increase sensitivity, while the integrated washing steps decrease false positives and increase reproducibility. Naked-eye detection can be used for qualitative results or a smartphone camera for quantitative analysis. The device can detect antibodies at 2.8 ng/mL from whole blood, which was very close the concentration of detectable target in a well-plate ELISA (1.2 ng/mL). In this study the dELISA system was used to detect SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, but we believe that the device represents a fundamental step forward in point-of-care technology that will enable sensitive detection of many other analytes outside of a centralized laboratory.


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Supplementary material

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Video One Dye Simulation
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Video Two Blood Assay