Representative, nationwide corona antibody study starts in Reutlingen

NMI in Reutlingen supports study with reliable detection method

With the aim of obtaining a better overview of the occurrence of SARS-CoV-2 infections, a nationwide antibody study conducted by the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) was launched in the district of Reutlingen at the beginning of July. Alongside four other antibody tests, a new detection method being jointly developed by the NMI Natural and Medical Sciences Institute at the University of Tübingen in Reutlingen and the HZI is also being used to determine the immune status within the population. The test centre, at which representative blood samples are taken, has been set up at the heart of Reutlingen.


Nationwide antibody study - start in the district of Reutlingen

Mild or even asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections are often not detected and thus make it difficult to estimate the infection rate. While PCR tests are only effective in the acute phase, antibody tests also permit reliable indications of COVID-19 infections that have been overcome. To gain a better overview of the actual occurrence of infections in Germany, various districts are being representatively investigated in a nationwide study coordinated by the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research. The district of Reutlingen is the starting point. Since the beginning of July, around 3,000 representative blood samples have been taken there. These are first examined in two laboratories before then being sent to the HZI and the NMI for confirmation and further analyses. The testing containers in which sampling is carried out have been set up on the site of the old post office in Reutlingen.


The NMI antibody test

The samples are examined in a comparison involving five different antibody tests. The antibody test developed at the NMI in Reutlingen and in close cooperation with the HZI in Braunschweig plays a special role in this, because it differs from the other tests due to its multiplex approach. "In this case, multiplex means that we can test for multiple antibodies at the same time. This setup is very flexible and enables us to quickly deliver differentiated results", explains Dr Nicole Schneiderhan-Marra, Group Leader Biochemistry at the NMI. The fact that the multiplex antibody test can discover cross-reactions and further reduce the number of false positive results is also advantageous.

The study is due to be conducted over a one-year period, during which further blood samples will additionally be taken and analyzed four and eight months after the initial samples in selected districts. "We are delighted to have found a strong partner like the NMI, with its wealth of expertise in developing such sensitive antibody tests, for the nationwide antibody study", says Prof Gérard Krause, study coordinator and Head of the Epidemiology Department at the HZI in Braunschweig. "This will allow us to gain a far deeper insight into the immune mechanisms." According to Krause, the results of these various cross-section studies can help to refine strategies for vaccines and other preventative measures. Initial results for the district of Reutlingen are anticipated from the autumn onwards.

Further information is available:


About the NMI

The NMI Natural and Medical Sciences Institute at the University of Tübingen conducts application-oriented research at the interface of biological and material sciences. It has a unique, interdisciplinary spectrum of competence for R&D and services for regional and international companies. The NMI addresses both the health care industry and industrial sectors such as vehicle-, machine- and tool construction.

The NMI is divided into three business areas, which are connected by a common mission statement: The search for technical solutions is always conducted according to the highest scientific standards. In the pharmaceutical and biotech business area, the NMI supports the development of new drugs using biochemical, molecular and cell biological methods. The Biomedicine and Materials Sciences division researches and develops future technologies such as personalised medicine and micromedicine for new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches. The focus of the services offered to customers is the structuring and functionalisation of materials and their surfaces. The Analytics and Electron Microscopy business unit provides answers to analytical questions.

The NMI is known beyond the borders of Germany for its incubator concept for start-up companies with a background in bio- and material sciences.


The NMI Natural and Medical Sciences Institute at the University of Tübingen is supported by the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Economics, Labour and Housing and is a member of the Baden-Württemberg Innovation Alliance, an association of 13 non-university and industry-related research institutes.


You can find the complete press release here.


Press contacts

Sarah Link

Public Relations

NMI Natural and Medical Sciences Institute
at the University of Tübingen

Phone: +49 7121 51530-842



Susanne Thiele

Head of Press and Communications, Spokesperson

Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research

Tel.:     +49 531 6181-1400


Prof Gérard Krause (HZI) and Dr Nicole Schneiderhan-Marra (NMI) in front of the pipetting robot used to analyze the blood samples with high throughput. Photo: NMI

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