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01 Mar 2021

SARS-CoV-2 antibody signature

Doherty Institute researchers have profiled and obtained the signature of the antibody response to COVID-19 infection over time, following the onset of disease.

The Kedzierska Laboratory used six commonly used serology assays, each designed to detect distinct features of the immune response, to comprehensively analyse different aspects of the antibody response. The finding were published in Clinical and Translational Immunology (

After infection, the majority of people will develop an immune response which includes producing antibodies to the virus. These antibodies are detectable in a patient’s blood using serological tests and identify people who have been infected with the virus.

The University of Melbourne’s Dr Brendon Chua, Research Fellow at the Doherty Institute said that even though each assay detected different immune features, they found a high degree of correlation between them.

“This gives us a high level of confidence to know that if you see a particular feature or an aspect appearing in an immune response, it’s going to be associated, or related to another feature or even part of the larger profile of the immune response,” he said.

“These findings are important as it allows laboratories and research groups that have different access to technologies to be able to compare their findings, even though they’re using different assays.”

University of Melbourne Dr Louise Rowntree, Research Fellow at the Doherty Institute said this research, published today in Clinical Translational Immunology will have implications on studies of the immune responses of people who have been vaccinated.

“There will be countless studies using the serology assays we compared, looking at how COVID-19 vaccines are working in healthy people, high risk group and so on. Our work will enable the analysis of these studies by comparing the common aspects of the immune response the different assays represent,” Dr Rowntree said.

“It will improve the ability to track antibodies in people who have been vaccinated or infected, adding to the global body of knowledge of how the immune system reacts to SARS-CoV-2.”