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SBU to use LI firm's antibody test in convalescent plasma research

Dr. Elliott Bennett-Guerrero will be overseeing Stony Brook's

Dr. Elliott Bennett-Guerrero will be overseeing Stony Brook's trial to assess the use of convalescent plasma in hospitalized adults with COVID-19. Credit: Stony Brook Medicine

A Hauppauge manufacturer is supplying diagnostic tests to Stony Brook University for a 500-person study to see if the blood of coronavirus survivors can help those critically ill with the virus, officials said.

Chembio Diagnostics Inc. announced its rapid coronavirus test will be used by researchers at Stony Brook’s Renaissance School of Medicine to identify people who have recovered from the virus and whose blood contains antibodies that could serve as a treatment. The school is purchasing the test, a university spokeswoman said Monday. 

Stony Brook is among at least four hospital systems on Long Island launching clinical trials on the use of convalescent plasma to stop the infection in others or prevent the infection.

Chembio received an “emergency use authorization” to sell the 15-minute test from the federal Food and Drug Administration this month -- around the time that the agency approved the Stony Brook clinical trial.

The point-of-care test, developed in collaboration with British test maker LumiraDX, will help researchers determine a patient’s current or past exposure to the coronavirus by detecting IgM and IgG antibodies that are produced by the body in response to the virus. The number and types of antibodies signal whether the patient has recovered and could participate in the research study, according to Javan Esfandiari, chief science and technology officer at Chembio.

The test is manufactured in Hauppauge and Medford while the results readers are made in Germany. The test gives a numerical result related to the amount of the antibody in the sample,” Esfandiari said last week. “This eliminates the individual subjectivity of results and increases the sensitivity and specificity of the test.”

Stony Brook's Dr. Elliott Bennett-Guerrero, who is overseeing the clinical trial, said it will involve up to 500 people from Long Island “to assess the safety and efficacy of convalescent plasma versus standard plasma in hospitalized adult patients with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis."

Doctors have used blood antibodies to combat infection for about 100 years. The treatment was commonplace before the advent of mass-produced antibiotic drugs and was used in the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918.

“Transferring this antibody-rich plasma into someone who is fighting the [COVID-19] disease may give that person the immune power to recover,” Bennett-Guerrero said.

Besides Stony Brook, Northwell Health's Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, Catholic Health Services and Mount Sinai are investigating convalescent plasma.

Shervin Zade, a COVID-19 survivor and founder of consumer products manufacturer U.S. Nonwovens Corp. in Brentwood, organized a blood donation event in Great Neck last week to support the Mount Sinai clinical trial.

“I’ve been going into the city to donate for three weeks, but people are afraid to make the trip” because Manhattan is a coronavirus hot spot, he said last week. “So, Mount Sinai agreed to take donations at a local synagogue in Great Neck. I hope we can do this in other places on Long Island.”

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