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Mayo Clinic launches antibody test that could help find vaccine for COVID-19

Mayo calls this a "critical addition" to its testing.

Mayo Clinic has launched an antibody test that could help find a vaccine or other treatments for COVID-19. 

The Rochester-based health care system announced the neutralizing antibody test Thursday. The test measures the level of neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, which is the virus that causes COVID-19. 

“The neutralizing antibody test is a critical addition to our COVID-19 testing, expanding on the capabilities of the molecular tests used to diagnose active infection and the serology test, which indicates previous infection by identifying antibodies for the SARS-CoV-2 virus,” William Morice II, president of Mayo Clinic Laboratories, said in a news release. 

“This new test provides us with incredibly important information about how effective a person’s antibodies are at neutralizing the virus," Morice added. "This will help us identify optimal convalescent plasma donors and ultimately help assess the efficacy of anti-SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.”

This test doesn't replace other COVID-19 tests – it should only be ordered after a prior infection is confirmed with molecular (the diagnostic test) and/or serological (the antibody test that tells you if you've preciously had COVID) studies.

“It is important to note that the neutralizing antibody test is not a replacement for the existing serology testing for COVID-19, which detects antibodies that recognize the virus and serves as an indicator of current or prior infection,” John Mills, co-director of the Mayo Clinic Neuroimmunology Laboratory, said in the release. 

“However, the existing serology tests do not directly assess the virus-neutralizing capacity of those antibodies. The neutralizing antibody test adds that next level of detail for researchers and clinicians by providing an accurate estimate of SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing activity.”

This new test will support a nationwide convalescent plasma exchange study and other research that's important to finding therapies and vaccines for COVID-19, the release said. This test will be available through Mayo Clinic Laboratories to select labs, blood banks and biopharma clients in late June.

Mayo Clinic developed the test with the support of Vyriad, Inc., Regeneron and Imanis Life Sciences. 

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