Resources for coronavirus (COVID-19) research

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Scientists around the world are involved in research to better understand the immunopathogenesis of the COVID-19 virus, enabling the development of therapeutic vaccines and treatment modalities to combat this pandemic.

Flow cytometry is a critical tool used by many labs for studies including:

  • Immune cell profiling
  • Cytokines, and T and B cell analysis
  • Detection of cytokine response or cytokines neutralizing antibody titers in patient blood
  • Sorting of antibody-producing B cells for therapeutic antibody candidates

We are committed to supporting the research community in its mission to advance scientific knowledge about the virus, and aim to develop focused solutions during these challenging times.

Navigate the resources below to help with your teams’ COVID-19 research.

Cell sorting and COVID-19 research

There are several crucial clinical questions surrounding COVID-19 that urgently need an answer. Discovering more about the immune system, and which assays, approaches, models and methodologies are best to use, is key in the research to make an impact in the fight against this virus. Deep characterization of the immune system is essential, and an approach that combines flow cytometry and single cell multi-omic profiling may offer some insight into possible solutions, such as developing a cure or an innovative vaccine.

Diagram of cell sorting workflow

Flow cytometry is an indispensable tool in COVID-19 research. Sony cell sorters are microfluidics-based flow cytometry systems used for high throughput and gentle isolation of COVID-19 donor cells. Purified cells of interest are used for studies ranging from therapeutic monoclonal antibody discovery and immune repertoire analysis to single cell transcriptome analysis for investigating virus pathology.

diagram showing therapeutic workflow

Rationale for neutralizing antibody discovery for COVID-19 treatment

Donor blood sample is a source of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). Enriched B cells are used for sorting antigen-specific B cells. These are processed for in vitro expansion/activation sequence analysis to identify best candidates. Characterized candidates are then scaled up for therapeutic treatments

Diagram of immune workflow

Analysis of immune repertoire using flow cytometry

Analyses of innate and adaptive immune responses during acute COVID-19 infection offer information on the underlying basis of the anti-viral activity and inflammatory response, supporting the development of treatments.

The workflow below shows the steps of isolating immune cells of interest by flow-based cell sorting, and the functional assays needed to study immune cell subsets, as well as the types and levels of cytokines produced.

Diagram of single cell workflow

Single cell isolation for transcriptome analysis of COVID-19 infected cells

Transcriptome landscape of blood immune cell subsets are being studied to better understand the immune clearance mechanism in COVID-19 infection. In order to look at the transcriptome, the nuclei need to be extracted from infected tissue. Viable nuclei are then sorted for downstream RNA Seq analysis, before transcriptome analysis of the single cells to understand the tropism of the COVID-19 virus.


SARS-CoV-2, the Virus That Causes COVID-19: Cytometry and the New Challenge for Global Health →​

New SARS-CoV-2 sorting protocols released →

Photo of masked healthcare worker with text thank you superimmposed.

In Appreciation

To all the scientists around the world who have come together to design antiviral vaccines, develop diagnostic tests and set up testing facilities—we thank you for all your efforts and applaud your commitment and dedication.

Sony solutions

Flow cytometry forms a large part of the global effort to combat COVID-19 and Sony offers a range of instrumentation to help. The MA900 Multi-Application Cell Sorter can isolate and analyze epithelial, dendritic, monocytic and alveolar macrophage populations from infected lungs, providing important information about the immunopathology of COVID-19. The Sony SH800 Cell Sorter can purify nuclei from lung tissue of healthy donors to be isolated to study the epigenetic regulation of key lung genes. These cell sorters are used for isolation of antigen-specific B cells for profiling human antibodies targeting the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.

The table below shows Sony’s solutions for a range of experimental protocols for investigating COVID-19.

Sony flow cytometers

Sony Solution Benefits Resources

SH800 Cell Sorter

Benchtop system for sorting cells with 6 colors into 2-way tubes and microtiter plates

  • Automated and easy to use
  • Control carryover
  • Biosafety containment for BSL2+

Brochure →

Shutdown Guide​ →

Applications →​

Webinar →

Panel Discussion →

MA900 Multi-Application Cell Sorter

Benchtop system for sorting cells with 12 colors into 4-way tubes and microtiter plates

  • Automated and easy to use
  • Control carryover
  • Automated cleaning
  • Biosafety containment for BSL2+

Brochure →

Shutdown Guide →​

Webinar →

SA3800 Spectral Analyzer
Benchtop spectral cell anlyzer to optimize sensitivity while simplifying application design and workflow

  • Automation across the workflow
  • Advanced 3D autosampler technology
  • Global Standardization mode—removing inter-instrument variability concerns in a multi-laboratory study

Brochure →

Shutdown Guide →

Sony reagents

Sony is committed to supplying researchers with Flow Cytometry antibodies and buffers including new KIRAVIA Blue 520 and Brilliant Violet™ conjugates.

Free shipping on online orders!

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To support researchers returning to the lab, Sony is offering free shipping on antibody and ancillary flow cytometry reagents until March 31, 2021.* Simply add reagents to your online shopping cart and automatically receive free shipping at checkout.
Register for a Sony Biotechnology web account →

Explore COVID-19 specific immune response

Researchers around the globe are rigorously studying the immune system to understand the anti-viral response and the role of  specific T cells, B cells, NK cells and cytokines in disease progression and patient stratification. Based on publications and early findings several markers have been used for immune repertoire analysis and developing a rationale for therapeutic vaccines.

Click on the below specificities to browse anti-human antibody conjugates available from Sony.

Immune Cell Panel CD19  CD45  CD31  CD24  CD64  EpCam  Ly6G  CD11b  CD11c  Ly6C  Ly6G  MHC2
NK Cell Panel CD94  CD16  CD56  CD57  CD27  CD3
B Cell Panel CD3  CD10  CD19  CD20  CD24  CD27  CD38  CD138  IgM  IgG  IgD
T Cell Panel CD3  CD4  CD45RA  CD127  CD25  CXCR3  CXCR5  CCR4  CCR6  CRTH2  CCR10

KIRAVIA Blue 520 antibody conjugates available from Sony.

Stylized image of KIRAVIA Blue 520 text

The KIRAVIA Dyes™ are organic polymers with fluorescent dyes loaded precisely on a novel backbone developed by Sony, based on proprietary technology. This family of fluorescent dyes can be used on both spectral and conventional flow cytometers. Designed for ease of use, KIRAVIA Dyes do not require a special buffer system or sample preparation protocol.

Learn more →

All flow cytometry reagents available from Sony →


COVID-19 research highlights

Scientists around the world are using Sony’s solutions for their critical COVID-19 research. Below are examples of some of the important collaborative work that is being carried out using Sony cell sorters.

Neutralizing antibodies targeting the SARS-CoV-2 receptor binding domain isolated from a naïve human antibody library

Stylized image of researcher using pipet

The SARS-CoV-2 virus infects a host through the binding of its spike glycoprotein to the ACE2 receptor on target cells. Infected patients can develop neutralizing antibodies that block this interaction through recognition of the receptor binding domain (RBD) of the spike.

A recently published study has explored whether the neutralizing antibodies could be raised in healthy individuals. Researchers used novel in vitro approaches based on a yeast surface-display library of human naïve antibodies, which were subsequently sorted with a Sony SH800 Cell Sorter to enrich for antibodies that could bind to and disrupt ACE2/RBD interactions. They isolated and characterized three antibodies that were able to inhibit infection by a SARS-CoV-2 spike-pseudotyped lentivirus and showed overlapping epitopes with antibodies elicited by natural COVID-19 infection. This work highlights a useful technique that could be used as tool for SARS-CoV-2 vaccine development by rapid isolation of antibodies with therapeutic potential.
Read more →

Rapid isolation and profiling of a diverse panel of human monoclonal antibodies targeting the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein

Stylized image of vaccine vial and gloved hand

The novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has led to millions of infections and hundreds of thousands of deaths, and there is an urgent need to develop therapeutics. A recently published study has isolated hundreds of human monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) against the SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) protein, using the SH800 cell sorter to isolate target-specific memory B cells from pooled PBMCs of two patients with documented infection. The results provide potential candidate biologics, showing that many of these mAbs inhibit virus infection, with most neutralizing mAbs recognizing the S protein receptor-binding domain (RBD). The work also highlights the RBD of SARS-CoV-2 S as a potential target for vaccine design and therapeutic antibody development.
Read more →

Single nucleus multi-omic profiling reveals age-dynamic regulation of host genes associated with SARS-CoV-2 Infection

Stylized image of human lungs and viruses

As the COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic has engulfed the globe, respiratory failure has emerged as the leading cause of death, with a disproportionate impact on adults compared to children. Learn more about a recently published study, that looked at the expression patterns of a number of genes implicated in SARS-CoV-2 cell entry in lung cell samples from healthy donors of different ages. Using large-scale single nuclei ATAC-Seq/RNA-Seq, it aimed to identify age-associated changes that could help to explain differences in susceptibility and response to SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Read more →

Type III interferons disrupt the lung epithelial barrier upon viral recognition

Diagram of cytokine

Inflammation and superinfection susceptibility appear to be linked to case severity when it comes to the recent outbreak of the highly pathogenic SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. The ability to overcome lung viral infections relies on the production of interferons (IFNs) and inflammatory cytokines, and researchers have suggested the use of type III IFNs against SARS-CoV-2 to limit immunopathology but maintain antiviral activity. A recently published study looked at the ability of SARS-CoV-2 to induce interferon production in the upper or lower airways, as well as directly evaluating the contribution of IFN-λ to immune pathology.
Read more →

Vanderbilt vaccine development program sprints towards COVID-19 antibody therapies

Photo of researcher and syring with vial

VVC researchers have developed techniques for rapidly isolating clones of white blood cells that produce antibodies targeting – and neutralizing – specific viral proteins. Using these techniques, they have generated human monoclonal antibodies against a wide range of pathogenic viruses including Ebola, chikungunya, HIV, dengue, norovirus and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). The team has pioneered the rational design of neutralizing antibody treatments and vaccines, some of which have progressed to clinical trials, and are now hoping to develop antibodies that could be given to people infected with SARS-CoV-2. Learn more about their work here.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center and AstraZeneca join forces to identify potential COVID-19 Treatments →

Researchers developing potential coronavirus antibody therapies →

Brilliant Violet™ is a trademark of Sirigen Group Ltd.
For Research Use Only. Not for use in diagnostic or therapeutic procedures. The MA900, SH800, and SA3800 are classified as Class 1 laser products.