#MSCOVID19: National Seroprevalence Study

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We were hoping to do a UK-wide seroprevalence study in UK residents with MS to see how many had seroconverted to become anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody positive and to see if there are differences in seroconversion rates between people on different DMTs. Unfortunately, our source of funding has fallen through.

Based on recent insights we would predict that people on ocrelizumab would have lower titres of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody titres, be more likely to be seronegative despite a history of COVID-19 and less likely to have neutralizing anti-spike protein RBD (receptor binding domain) antibodies than patients on other DMTs. Answers to these questions are really important for the MS community, have safety implications for pwMS and will address questions around vaccine readiness in the future.

In addition to the cross-sectional analysis, we want to follow the seronegative pwMS over time to study how the COVID-19 pandemic evolves and monitor the development of herd immunity in the MS population. 

To do the first part of this study we need £25,000 to cover the costs of posting out blood spots and doing the initial assay. As this study is time sensitive we need to raise the money ASAP. Applying for grants will take too long. It has been recommended that we crowdfund this project. The question we want to ask you the MS community do you think this study is important enough and are you willing to help raise the money for us?

The results of this study will help the MS community prepare for a vaccine and whether or not the herd immunity strategy is working. 

Please let us know your thoughts. Thank you.

CoI: multiple  

About the author

Prof G

Professor of Neurology, Barts & The London. MS & Preventive Neurology thinker, blogger, runner, vegetable gardener, husband, father, cook and wine & food lover.

14 comments

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  • Had an afterthought with this. If grant funding is a problem, Is there any scope to get antibody tests added to the blood panel for routine monitoring of dmt patients? Justified on the grounds that this data may have some clinical utility for clinicians particularly as understanding of the condition develops. This would have no extra burden for the patient, and your research cost/excess treatment cost could just be described as part of the standard of care pathway saving thousands. You would also reduce administrative overheads as the blood data could just be reported to the registry by the clinical teams as they already do, rather than the postal approach. This methodology would reduce your costs enough that it might get through on a crowd fund/pump priming.

    Might be wishful thinking but I’ve heard of worse being done to get past the soecat form …..

    • The NHS has commissioned the Roche and Abbott assays via their own laboratories. I will be surprised if they would pay for our GloBody assay outside of their own labs.

      • Thanks for the reply. Hadn’t appreciated the difference and see the dilemma. As Roche must be rolling in cash post antibody test, it is a shame they won’t give you commercial funding to answer the question at least for ocrelizumab.

        Good luck with the crowd funding.

  • Prof G, I work in a hospital, front line and have MS. I’ve been offered the antibody test and will have it in the coming weeks.
    If there are other pwMS who are able to have this test due to their job, would you be interested to know the results and which DMT?

    • Yes, definitely. I will set-up an online database and collect information on this. Great idea. CITIZEN SCIENCE.

  • On the Gov UK website it has a bit about who eligible for antibody testing in England, since May 2020, NHS and care staff.

    It also mentions clinicans can request patients in hospital and social care settings have the test, if they think it’s appropriate.

    Does this mean some patients have had the antibody test already? and if so can you access the data to see the results in your hospital and other hospitals, and if they have MS and the DMT?

  • Pulse online website mention from 29th May 2020, GP surgeries should offer patients antibody testing, if they have blood taken for other reasons and wish to know if they have had the virus, according to NHS England.

    Is there a way then pwMS could request this test at their GP surgery and Bart’s collect the data?

  • I’m actually part of a very similar study in NYC. Happy to discuss further or link you up with the head researcher if interested.

    • It is being validated now, but even if it doesn’t hold up we will be going with a validated assay (Roche or Abbott for example).

  • When I asked my GP last week about the possibility of antibody testing, I was told that there was currently no NHS antibody testing in the English county where I live – not even for NHS and Care workers. Do not believe everything you read on a Government website!
    Whilst it is not necessarily ethical to pay study participants, what if I was willing to pay for my inclusion in this study? Since I was thinking of getting an antibody test at a private hospital anyway, I could instead pay the same price (and a small additional donation) to the study organisers, in return for a test. This way, the ‘profit’ from my test could further fund this study rather than benefiting the private healthcare system.

    • I was thinking this too. That pwMS could pay for their own antibody test, which could be used for the study. Rather than asking pwMS to contribute via crowd funding, which might not guarantee an antibody test for the person contributing.

      But would this be ethical/doable Prof G??

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