Biobank Graz

Your voluntary donation of tissue, blood and other body fluids is tremendously important for the promotion of research and makes a significant contribution to the education of doctors. Today the scientific examination of these specimens in connection with symptoms of disease is one of the most important requirements for a better understanding of the causes and progression of disease and consequently the development of new preventative measures, diagnostic procedures and treatment methods based on this understanding.

Biobank Unterstuetzung

With your support

  • causes of disease can be investigated
  • preventative measures can be found so that people do not become ill
  • disease can be detected and cured earlier
  • treatment methods can be improved

Your participation is

  • not associated with any further examinations
  • risk-free
  • free of charge
Informed Consent

COVID-19 Convalescent Cohort

Between April 2020 and February 2021 COVID-19 convalescents were included into the COVID-19 Convalescent Cohort. During the initial visit and four follow-up visits, which took place 1, 2, 5 and 12 months after the initial visit, participants donated blood, saliva, tear fluid, serum, plasma, buffy coat and an oral or nasal swab. Data on symptom characteristics, clinical history, lifestyle and pre-history were collected via a questionnaire. Samples of the COVID-19 Convalescent Cohort are used in the research projects described below.

Current Research Projects and Publications

Preanalytical stability of SARS-CoV-2 anti-nucleocapsid antibodies

In a collaboration project between MedUni Wien Biobank, Biobank Graz and researchers from several clinical departments of the Medical Universities of Graz and Vienna, short-term and long-term storage stabilities of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies were evaluated using samples from Biobanks Graz COVID-19 Convalescent Cohort the Biobank's SARS-CoV-2 cohorts.

Moreover, the authors highlighted the problems with evaluating long-term storage effects, as the evaluation tool (the analytical test itself) also changes over time, which introduces additional analytical imprecision and leads to overestimation of the pre-analytical variability.


Project leader: Dr. Tobias Niedrist, Clinical Institute of Medical and Chemical Laboratory Diagnostics; Priv.-Doz. Mag. DDr. Helmuth Haslacher, Department of Laboratory Medicine MedUni Wien

Immune response after a mild course of SARS-CoV-2 infection

  • The first publication describes the data from 326 participants (61.7% female) that were tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 and had a mild course of COVID-19 without hospitalization. A large number of the participants (66.9%) still had symptoms like fatigue, dysgeusia, ageusia, headache, shortness of breath etc. 38 days (median) after infection. Our results indicate a strong and persistent immune response against SARS-CoV-2 infection in individuals who recovered from a mild course of COVID-19 for up to 8 months post infection. Furthermore we could indicate, that  participants, who suffered from typical symptoms like fever, cough, shortness of breath, loss of taste and ageusia or comorbidities, show higher antibody levels after infection than participants who suffered from milder symptomatic or had no comorbidities.
  • Publication:
  • Project leaders: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Robert Krause, Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine; Univ.-Prof. DI Dr. Andrea Berghold, Institute for Medical Informatics, Statistics and Documentation; Univ.-Prof. Dr. Dr. Peter Schlenke, ; Univ.-Prof. Dr. Ivo Steinmetz, Diagnostic and Research Institute of Hygiene, Microbiology and Environmental Medicine; Univ.-Prof. Dr. Markus Herrmann, Clinical Institute of Medical and Chemical Laboratory Diagnostics

Development of a Rapid Live SARS-CoV-2 Neutralization Assay Based on a qPCR Readout

  • Using sera from individuals who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, we succeeded in developing a novel SARS-CoV-2 antibody test. The assay determines virus neutralizing antibody titers already within 24 hours. It thereby overcomes the major limitation of previous detection methods, namely a much longer time to result. With our assay it is possible to detect virus neutralizing antibodies after infection as well as those produced after vaccination. Since the assay can be applied for all virus variants, it can be used to quickly determine if neutralizing antibodies against new virus variants are present in an individual.
  • Publication:
  • Project leader: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Ivo Steinmetz, Diagnostic and Research Institute of Hygiene, Microbiology and Environmental Medicine

Phenotyping of SARS-CoV-2 infections with nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy

  • In this project, the metabolic effects of a SARS-CoV-2 infection on human biological fluids are characterized using metabolic phenotyping with nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR). The goal is to identify and validate a metabolic biomarker for the progression of COVID-19 in order to better predict the risk for disease progression. It is planned to extend the investigations in connection with the coronavirus vaccine.
  • Project leader: Assoz.-Prof. Priv.-Doz. Mag. Dr. Tobias Madl, Gottfried Schatz Research Center for Cell Signaling, Metabolism and Aging, Division of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry

SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing activity of polyphenols in a special green tea extract preparation

  • The aim of this study was to investigate, whether a sorbitol/lecithin-based throat spray containing concentrated green tea extract (sGTE) interacts with SARS-CoV-2 viral particles and additionally is capable to block the virus replication. The findings of this study suggest that sGTE has strong activity on SARS-CoV-2 independent from the strain (Wuhan strain, beta- or delta-variants). sGTE might be relevant for reduction of corresponding viral infections when periodically applied to mouth and throat.
  • Publication: 
  • Project leader: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Kurt Zatloukal, Diagnostic & Research Institute of Pathology

Poor concordance between different SARS-CoV-2 antibody tests

  • Numerous SARS-CoV-2 antibody tests are now available. Although the individual methods are designed very differently, in everyday life people often only speak of "COVID antibodies" or the "COVID antibody test". This study compared six commonly used laboratory tests to determine antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. The used study collective comprised 954 blood samples taken from 315 participants of the “COVID-19 Convalescent Cohort”. The tests showed serious differences and sometimes even contradictory results.
  • Publication:
  • Project leader: Univ. Prof. Dr. Markus Herrmann, Clinical Institute of Medical and Chemical Laboratory Diagnostics

Levels of ABO anti-A and anti-B in the serum and saliva of COVID-19 convalescents

  • Previous studies indicated that individuals with blood type O, possessing naturally anti-A and anti-B antibodies, are underrepresented among patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 compared with healthy controls. The ABO antibodies might play a role in the viral transmission. ABO antibody titers vary widely between individuals. In this study, a possible influence of anti-A and anti-B on infection with SARS-CoV-2 was examined. ABO antibodies were determined by flow cytometry in serum and saliva samples of COVID-19 convalescents at two different time points. ABO antibody levels were compared with levels in individuals (blood donors) who had never been infected with SARS-CoV-2. Serum levels of anti-A and anti-B antibodies (IgM, IgG and IgA isotypes) were consistently lower in COVID-19 convalescents than in controls. This suggests that individual preexisting high ABO antibody levels may be protective against SARS-CoV-2 infection.
  • Publication:
  • Project leaders: Eva-Maria Matzhold, Ao.Univ.-Prof. Mag. Dr. Thomas Wagner, MA, Department of Blood Group Serology and Transfusion Medicine

COVID-19 Vaccination Cohorts

At the Medical University of Graz, several COVID-19 Vaccination Cohorts were built up with support of Biobank Graz. The aim is to study the immune response of patients with a weakened immune system (The CoVVac Study) or if individuals, who suffer from diabetes type 1 or type 2, show a reduced immune response (COVAC-DM Study). The respective departments perform patient´s recruitment. Healthy control groups are recruited through the Department of Blood Group Serology and Transfusion Medicine as well as the Biobank. The design of these studies is described in the Collection and Cohort Profiles.

Below you find information on research projects and publications that are conducted using samples from the vaccination cohorts. 

Current Research Projects and Publications

Humoral immune response to COVID-19 vaccination in diabetes: The prospective COVAC-DM cohort study

  • In this study we investigated the immune response in people with diabetes following a COVID-19 vaccination. We demonstrated that the anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody levels were comparable in healthy controls and in participants with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, irrespective of the type of diabetes and glycaemic control. We observed age and renal function to be significantly correlated with the antibody levels. Research projects investigating cellular immune response are currently ongoing.
  • Publication:
  • Project leader: Univ.-Prof. Priv.-Doz. Dr. Harald Sourij, MBA, Klinische Abteilung für Endokrinologie und Diabetologie, Trials Unit für Interdisziplinäre Metabolische Medizin

B Cells as predictors of humoral (antibody-building) immune response to COVID-19 mRNA vaccination in immunocompromised patients

  • Individuals, who have a weakened immune system due to a disease or medical treatment, are at higher risk to become severely ill when having COVID-19. Studies showed that these patients have also a poor response to vaccination. This study investigated the immune response after COVID-19 mRNA vaccinations. Results of 120 individuals with weakened immune system were compared with 79 individuals from a healthy control group. It was shown, that the concentration or the presence of B-cell subtypes, especially the naïve B cells prior to the first vaccination has a significant correlation with the measured immune response 21 days after the second vaccination. (Naïve B cells are B cells that have not had contact with an extraneous structure yet.) Furthermore, the data show that the interval between the last B cell depleting therapies (removal of B cells e.g. treatment B cell lymphoma) and the COVID-19 vaccination should be at least 4 months to allow a sufficient antibody response. In future, the amount of naïve B cells could be a predictor for antibody production and the success of a COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Publication:
  • Project leader: Assoz. Prof. Priv.-Doz. Dr. Martin Stradner, Klinische Abteilung für Rheumatologie und Immunologie

Altered cellular immune response to vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 in patients suffering from autoimmunity with B-cell depleting therapy

  • Patients with autoimmune diseases receiving intensive immunosuppressive therapies, like so-called B-cell-depletion, have a higher risk for infections and severe COVID-19 courses. These patients are not able to produce proper amounts of protecting antibodies after vaccination. Thus, we investigated whether they still benefit from COVID-19 vaccinations by establishing a protection with different kinds of T cells (specialized cells of the immune system). We discovered that these patients show distinct T cellular reactions. However, these reactions differ in some parameters from those of the healthy controls and the interplay of the involved cell types seems to be less precisely coordinated.
  • Publication:
  • Project leader: Assoz. Prof. Priv.-Doz. Dr. Martin Stradner, Dr. med. univ. Isabel Hodl, Division of Rheumatology and Immunology

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