U of M Medical School selected to join national COVID-19 antibody research network

The University of Minnesota has joined a national network dedicated to studying antibodies to help combat the coronavirus. (University of Minnesota)

The University of Minnesota Medical School has been selected as one of four Capacity Building Centers in the country dedicated to studying COVID-19 antibodies.

According to the U of M, the school’s Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology is joining the new national Serological Sciences Network, or SeroNet.

SeroNet is part of the National Cancer Institute’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program is part of the $306 million approved by Congress for development of serological testing and technology.

 According to Dr. Leo Furcht, the chair of the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, the U of M has completed more than 400,000 PCR tests for the state as well as nearly 16,000 antibody tests to date.

“The nation’s top researchers in academia, government and private industry have come together in an unprecedented effort to fight the pandemic,” said Dinah Singer, PhD, deputy director of the NCI. “Through SeroNet, we are examining the immune response to the coronavirus to speed delivery of testing, treatments and vaccine development for COVID-19. What we learn could be applied immediately and will prove invaluable to public health beyond the current pandemic.”

More than 25 universities are part of SeroNet and are working to deploy serological testing to the American public.

“We are looking forward to joining this important effort to help expand our knowledge surrounding immunity to COVID-19,” said Amy Karger, MD, PhD, an associate professor in the department and the principal investigator for the initiative, who leads the University’s Advanced Research and Diagnostic Laboratory, where a majority of the state’s serology work takes place. “We were positioned for this opportunity thanks to the efforts of Dr. Marc Jenkins and his lab in developing an antibody test that has proven to be so reliable.”