Development and preliminary validation of a MERS-CoV ELISA for serological testing of camels and alpacas.

Publication date: Mar 30, 2024

This study describes the development and preliminary validation of a new serological assay using MERS-CoV S1 protein in an indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) format. This assay has the advantage of being able to test MERS-CoV serum samples in a PC2 laboratory without the need for a high-level biocontainment laboratory (PC3 or PC4), which requires highly trained and skilled staff and a high level of resources and equipment. Furthermore, this MERS-CoV S1 ELISA enables a larger number of samples to be tested quickly, with results obtained in approximately five hours. The MERS-CoV S1 ELISA demonstrated high analytical specificity, with no cross-reactivity observed in serum of animals infected with other viruses, including different coronaviruses. We tested 166 positive and 40 negative camel serum samples and have estimated the diagnostic sensitivity (DSe) to be 99. 4% (95% CI: 96. 7 – 100. 0%) and diagnostic specificity (DSp) to be 100% (95% CI: 97. 2%-100. 0%) relative to the assigned serology results (ppNT and VNT) using a S/P ratio cut-off value of >0. 58. The findings of this study showed that our MERS-CoV S1 ELISA was more sensitive than the commercial EUROIMMUN ELISA (Se 99. 4% vs 84. 9%) and comparable to the ppNT assay, and therefore could be used as a diagnostic aid in countries in the Middle East where MERS-CoV is endemic in dromedary camels. The assay reagents and protocol were easily adapted and transferred from an Australian laboratory to a laboratory in the University of Hong Kong. Thus, the results described here show that the MERS-CoV S1 ELISA represents a cheap, rapid, robust, and reliable assay to support surveillance of MERS-CoV in camels in endemic regions.

Concepts Keywords
Biocontainment EUROIMMUN ELISA
Camel MERS-CoV


Type Source Name
disease IDO assay
drug DRUGBANK Etoperidone
disease VO Viruses
disease VO protocol

Original Article

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