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Local company starts testing for COVID-19 antibodies

Posted at 8:08 PM, Apr 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-15 20:08:27-04

WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. (WKBW) — It's likely the next phase in the COVID-19 crisis, re-integrating people into everyday lives. While the virus is so new and there are so many unknowns, new testing being done locally could help detect who has already been infected with COVID-19.

KSL Biomedical in Williamsville is working with the University at Buffalo and Kaleida Health on this new initiative.

"I think this is going to be used as a tool to get people back to work, back to school," said Kevin Lawson, CEO of KSL Biomedical. "We're trying to deliver an accurate solution."

The lab at KSL is usually used for cancer testing, but will soon be transformed to a COVID-19 testing site, specifically testing for who has immunity to the virus, and who has already been exposed.

"When a person is infected with COVID-19, your immune system tries to fight it off and produces antibodies," Lawson said. "The antibodies persist for a long period of time," he said.

Lawson says that's what they're looking for. He says the antibodies start to produce on or around day 8 of a COVID-19 positive patient in order to fight the virus. Lawson says they stay in a person's system. If that patient has an elevated antibody level, the person was infected at some point with COVID-19 whether they had symptoms or not.

"We want to figure out who has been exposed, and if you have been exposed you may not have even known you hat it, but that doesn't stop your ability to pass it to someone else," he said.

Lawson says the lab will be able to test more than 160 samples per hour. Equipment was provided through a partnership with UB's Buffalo Institute of Genomics and Analytics.

"We are thrilled to be supporting them," said Alan Balicha from UB. "The fact that we can actually do something to impact this epidemic regionally is very meaningful for the University and for all of us involved."

The company hopes to start collecting and testing the blood samples next week.