Life Sciences Guide, Biocompare, Highlights Critical Nature of IsoPlexis’ Single-Cell Proteomics for COVID-19 Immune Monitoring

Biocompare Article Highlights IsoPlexis’ Functional Proteomics as a Critical Need for the Fight Against COVID-19

A recent article published by Biocompare discusses how single-cell proteomics has been helping researchers in the fight against COVID-19. For a long time, researchers were only able to estimate proteins by looking at mRNAs in bulk samples, which does not provide an accurate or complete picture of what’s happening within cells. While running these types of assays can help provide estimates, additional analyses must be done to provide researchers with information to help accelerate the development of treatments and vaccines. Single-cell transcriptomics is also used as an estimate; however, it has been shown that RNA has only about a 0.4 correlation to protein.1 In order to create effective and persistent therapeutics and vaccines against infectious diseases such as COVID-19, true function must be measured (30+ cytokines). IsoPlexis’ single-cell proteomics is the only technology that can measure true function.

IsoPlexis’ Single-Cell Proteomics Provides True Function Other Technologies Miss

IsoPlexis’ single-cell proteomics provides researchers with direct function from individual cells to demonstrate what is driving a cell to cause inflammation or promote durable and protective immunity. This technology can be used in many different applications and is being applied to the current fight against COVID-19. IsoPlexis’ IsoLight is a completely automated, benchtop proteomics hub for single-cell proteomics as well as highly multiplexed proteomic analysis of small sample volumes on the same system. Unique proteomic barcoding is used for highly sensitive and highly multiplexed (30+) ELISA reactions to detect the cytokines secreted by each individual cell. This functional phenotyping shows the direct, true function of each cell, which can allow researchers to predict efficacy, durability, toxicity, etc. IsoPlexis’ platform can identify what is causing a COVID-19 patient to suffer from cytokine storm as well as predict their response to potential therapies, helping to accelerate research and therapeutic development.

Top Researchers Use IsoPlexis’ Platform to Gain Insight Into COVID-19 Treatments

“IsoPlexis is collaborating with the Institute for Systems Biology (ISB), Swedish Medical Center, Merck, and others to identify immune biomarkers for SARS-CoV-2. For example, researchers at ISB are using IsoPlexis’ IsoLight platform to analyze samples from COVID-19 patients collected at different timepoints in the disease progression: initial infection, acute disease, and convalescence. The goal is to map the functional immune response in patients, both ill and recovered.”2

In a consortium with The Institute for Systems Biology, Merck, and other industry leaders the IsoPlexis platform is being used to help accelerate the fight against COVID-19. In a recent webinar with The Scientist, ISB president, James Heath, who is leading the Seattle Consortium for COVID-19, discussed how IsoPlexis’ technology is helping his team understand what is happening inside these patients through immune profiling. “The IsoPlexis assay may be especially helpful in resolving underlying mechanisms of the cytokine storms observed in severely ill COVID-19 patients,’ says Heath. ‘For example, what are the dominant cell types that have participated in those cytokine storms?’ Immune analysis of serum reflects the population response, so you can’t tell which cell types are involved. ‘With the IsoPlexis assay, you can separate out just the macrophages or just the cytotoxic T cells, for example, and look at what’s being secreted by those cell types,’ he says.”2

“The IsoPlexis assay may be especially helpful in resolving underlying mechanisms of the cytokine storms observed in severely ill COVID-19 patients.”

The initial results using IsoPlexis’ technology have allowed Dr. Heath and his team of researchers to see that an IL-6 inhibitor appeared to be encouraging the formation of a unique subset of superhero cells. Unique functional inflammatory monocytes show upstream and predictive sources of inflammation, and when post therapeutic, inflammatory monocytes dropped, this led to CD4 restoration, and elimination of COVID-19. IsoPlexis provides key COVID-19 immune markers, acting as targets for balanced immune response to eliminate COVID-19. They have also been able to identify what was causing cytokine storms in their patients, which they can now use to refine therapeutic regimens that will be able to further help these patients. While additional clinical trials must be run to confirm, these are promising findings.

Additionally, Shelli Farhadian of Yale is using IsoPlexis’ CodePlex Secretome technology to study the role cytokines and neuroinflammation play in COVID-19 patients who also have neurological disorders. IsoPlexis recently released a blog post covering Dr. Farhadian’s publication discussing one COVID-19 case study and how IsoPlexis’ platform was able to provide insight not otherwise discoverable. IsoPlexis’ functional proteomics revealed unique cytokine signatures in plasma and CSF from patients presenting with neurological disorders in COVID-19, and uncovered mechanisms of central nervous system inflammation that may associate with neurologic manifestations of disease.

Watch Jim Heath’s webinar now, titled “Improving COVID-19 Treatment & Vaccine Development by Modulating the Immune Response: Applying Single-Cell Proteomics” to learn more about this ongoing study.


  1. Vogel C et al. Insights into the regulation of protein abundance from proteomic and transcriptomic analyses. Nature Reviews Genetics 13: 227-232, 2012.
  2. Smith C. Fighting COVID-19 with Single-Cell Proteomics Technologies. Biocompare June 25, 2020.
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