Birmingham experts join forces to improve COVID-19 antibody diagnosis

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Coronavirus

Birmingham experts are working together on improving detection of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies – the best way of fighting the disease as the search for a vaccine continues.

Working with the Binding Site, and through Birmingham Health Partners alongside colleagues at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust experts at the University of Birmingham’s Clinical Immunology Service aim to improve antibody diagnosis.

This will help to identify patients where prompt medical intervention can prevent them having to go into intensive care, whilst guiding relaxation of the COVID-19 lockdown by identifying the proportion of communities at large that are now immune.

David Adams, Head of the College of Medical and Dental Sciences and Director of Birmingham Health Partners, commented: “The current COVID-19 pandemic represents a previously unimaginable global challenge. Without vaccination, the role of antibody testing, as a means to assess community infection, is of paramount importance.

“By bringing together unrivalled academic, clinical and commercial expertise in antibody testing this collaboration has the potential to deliver a reliable test to detect antibodies against coronavirus. If successful, this will be a game changer in our fight against Covid-19.”

He added that commercial and academic collaborative partnerships would be required to rapidly develop, verify and validate such tests.

With over 40 years’ experience in developing novel in vitro diagnostics (IVD) based on the generation of highly-specific monoclonal and polyclonal immunoglobulins, the Clinical Immunology Service is well-placed to coordinate such an effort.

The Binding Site leads the way in specialist protein diagnostics. Built on strong scientific foundations with extensive expertise in antibody specificity technology, Binding Site gives clinicians and laboratory staff the tools to significantly improve diagnosis and management of patients across a range of cancers and immune system disorders.

Charles de Rohan, CEO, The Binding Site, commented: “Binding Site came out of the University of Birmingham in the 1980’s and now produces more than 30 million IVD tests for worldwide sale every year.

“We’ve maintained our close collaboration with the University of Birmingham and researchers such as Professor Mark Drayson, Dr. Alex Richter and Dr. Aarnoud Huissoon. We share their scientific passion and are delighted to continue our partnership with them during this unprecedented time.”

University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB) is one of the largest teaching hospital trusts in England, serving a regional, national and international population.

Professor Simon Ball, Chief Medical Officer, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, commented: “We are proud of our long-standing association with the Binding Site. I have no doubt that this collaboration will provide significant assistance to our efforts to deliver the best care possible to patients affected by Covid-19.”

Notes to editors:

  • For more information, please contact Tony Moran, International Communications Manager, University of Birmingham on +44 (0)782 783 2312. For out-of-hours enquiries, please call +44 (0) 7789 921 165. 
  • The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions, its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than 6,500 international students from over 150 countries.
  • The Binding Site has its global headquarters in Birmingham, employing over 750 of its 1,100 total staff and housing all product development, manufacturing, global distribution and marketing. The Binding Site has a direct presence in over 25 countries and product sales through business partners in more than 100 countries.
  • University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB) runs the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, Birmingham Chest Clinic, Heartlands Hospital, Good Hope Hospital, Solihull Hospital and various community services across the region. The Trust has regional centres for trauma, burns, plastics, neurosciences, dermatology and cancer. It also has centres of excellence for vascular, bariatric and pathology services, as well as the treatment of MRSA and other infectious diseases. We also have expertise in HIV/AIDS, premature baby care, bone marrow transplants and thoracic surgery. The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham is a Major Trauma Centre treating the most severely injured casualties from across the region. The hospital’s single site 100-bed critical care unit is the largest in Europe.