LabCorp (NYSE:LH) on Thursday launched a new coronavirus blood test with a twist -- instead of simply looking for antibodies produced by the immune system in response to SARS-CoV-2, the PhenoSense assay will also assess the antibodies it finds for their capacity to inhibit the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Antibodies that better-neutralize SARS-CoV-2

As one of the largest laboratory service providers in the U.S., LabCorp has access to lots of specimens from patients who have recovered from COVID-19. The company's been building its COVID-19 RECOVER biobank with samples collected after patients' first positive tests. 

Filling laboratory sample tubes.

Image source: Getty Images.

LabCorp has been combining information regarding the antibodies found in COVID-19 patient blood samples processed at its 2,000-plus service locations spread throughout the U.S. By combing through data from patients with varying degrees of symptom duration and severity, the company has built a useful tool for vaccine and drug developers.

In addition to the biopharmaceutical industry, LabCorp intends to make the PhenoSense assay available to hospitals, blood banks, and other plasma-screening facilities.

Convalescent plasma

Using blood plasma from a recovered patient to treat another with the same infectious disease is an old practice that has the potential to become much more effective. Instead of simply transferring plasma from a recovered patient to one more recently infected and hoping for the best, physicians can screen potential donors with LabCorp's PhenoSense test to raise their procedure's chance of success.

An antibody screening tool isn't the only step LabCorp's taking to address the pandemic. Earlier this month, LabCorp created a service to connect people -- specifically, those currently suffering from COVID-19, those who have recovered, and those worried about potential exposure -- with clinical trials run by its drug development business, Covance.

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