Biomaterials Translational ›› 2021, Vol. 2 ›› Issue (1): 43-49.doi: 10.3877/cma.j.issn.2096-112X.2021.01.006

• RESEARCH ARTICLE • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Plant-produced recombinant SARS-CoV-2 receptor-binding domain; an economical, scalable biomaterial source for COVID-19 diagnosis

Kaewta Rattanapisit1, Gorawit Yusakul2, Balamurugan Shanmugaraj1, Kittinop Kittirotruji1, Phassorn Suwatsrisakul1, Eakachai Prompetchara3,4, Suthira Taychakhoonavud5,*(), Waranyoo Phoolcharoen6,7,*()   

  1. 1 Baiya Phytopharm Co., Ltd., Bangkok, Thailand
    2 School of Pharmacy, Walailak University, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand
    3 Centre of Excellence in Vaccine Research and Development (Chula Vaccine Research Centre, Chula VRC), Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand
    4 Department of Laboratory Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand
    5 Department of Social and Administrative Pharmacy, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand
    6 Research Unit for Plant-produced Pharmaceuticals, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand
    7 Department of Pharmacognosy and Pharmaceutical Botany, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand
  • Received:2020-11-19 Revised:2021-03-12 Accepted:2021-03-17 Online:2021-03-31 Published:2021-03-28
  • Contact: Suthira Taychakhoonavud,Waranyoo Phoolcharoen E-mail:suthira.t@chula.ac.th;waranyoo.p@chula.ac.th


The outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), spread rapidly causing a severe global health burden. The standard COVID-19 diagnosis relies heavily on molecular tests to detect viral RNA in patient samples; however, this method is costly, requires highly-equipped laboratories, multiple reagents, skilled laboratory technicians, and takes 3-6 hours to complete. To overcome these limitations, we developed a plant-based production platform for the SARS-CoV-2 receptor-binding domain as an economical source of detection reagents for a lateral-flow immunoassay strip (LFIA) which is suitable for detection of IgM/IgG antibodies in human samples. Further, we validated the plant-produced SARS-CoV-2 receptor-binding domain-based LFIA as a useful diagnostic tool for COVID-19. A total of 51 confirmed COVID-19 serum samples were tested using the LFIA, and the obtained results were consistent with those from polymerase chain reaction assays, while providing sensitivity and specificity of 94.1% and 98%, respectively. The developed LFIA is rapid, scalable, user-friendly, and relatively inexpensive with a simple test procedure, making it useful for the routine monitoring of COVID-19 in clinical settings. This study was approved on March 19, 2020 by the Ethics Committee of the Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University (COA No. 354/2020 and IRB No. 236/63).

Key words: COVID-19, lateral flow immunoassay, Nicotiana benthamiana, point-of-care testing, recombinant protein, SARS-CoV-2