RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Burlington-based LabCorp has launched a new test that it says may be helpful in battling the COVID-19 pandemic.

The test is a neutralizing antibody assay that assesses the capacity of antibodies in patient plasma to inhibit SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 infections.

Information from the test could be used in developing vaccines for preventing COVID-19 and in screening convalescent plasma for treating patients infected by the virus, the company said in a news release.

The assay, marketed as PhenoSense, will be available to biopharmaceutical companies, hospitals, blood banks and other plasma-screening facilities.

“By leveraging our drug development and diagnostic capabilities, we are working tirelessly to find solutions to prevent and treat COVID-19,” said Paul Kirchgraber, M.D., chief executive officer of LabCorp’s drug development business. “The launch of this neutralizing antibody assay is the latest effort in our company’s commitment to accelerate the evaluation of vaccine candidates so that a successful candidate may reach patients sooner.”

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As the research for a safe and effective vaccine continues, some clinicians are relying on the serum collected from convalescent patients who had COVID-19 to support treatment of the severely ill.

The PhenoSense assay may help define the neutralizing antibody activity correlated with the therapeutic efficacy of convalescent plasma therapy, as well as the relative protective immunity of vaccine candidates, according to LabCorp.

The assay is based on a “proven and trusted” LabCorp platform that has been used for decades in the evaluation of vaccine candidates for other viral infections, including HIV, Ebola virus, influenza virus and respiratory syncytial virus, Kirchgraber said.

LabCorp is a global life sciences company that provides clinical laboratory and drug development services. It reported revenue of more than $11.5 billion in 2019.

LabCorp, an S&P 500 company, employs about 7,300 people across North Carolina including about 3,600 people in Alamance County, where it is the largest private employer. Globally the company employs nearly 61,000 people.

(C) N.C. Biotechnology Center

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