MSU researchers’ rapid COVID-19 antibody test recognized with TechConnect Innovation Award

Keon Seok Seo, Joo Youn Park and Nogi Park stand beside their COVID-19 antibody rapid test invention.
MSU College of Veterinary Medicine researchers, from left, Keun Seok Seo, Nogi Park and Joo Youn Park developed a novel method for rapidly detecting COVID-19 neutralizing antibodies. The invention was recognized with an Innovation Award at the TechConnect World Innovation Conference and Expo. (Photo by Tom Thompson)

Contact: James Carskadon

STARKVILLE, Miss.—A Mississippi State University research team’s patent-pending method for rapidly detecting COVID-19 neutralizing antibodies is being recognized this week at a leading global technology conference.

A team of researchers led by Keun Seok Seo, associate professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Comparative Biomedical Sciences, was recognized with an Innovation Award at the TechConnect World Innovation Conference and Expo in Washington, D.C. The group developed a novel method to rapidly test for COVID-19 neutralizing antibodies, providing an affordable and fast method for testing that differentiates between neutralizing and non-neutralizing antibodies.

Research Professor Joo Youn Park and Postdoctoral Associate Nogi Park also contributed to the invention. The researchers have worked with MSU’s Office of Technology Management to file a patent for the invention and licensed the technology non-exclusively to Mico Biomed USA for commercial use. The product is currently being evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration through clinical trials being conducted at Mico and MSU.

Seo explained that current commercially available blood tests cannot distinguish between antibodies that neutralize COVID-19 and other non-protective antibodies, but his test uses an innovative chimeric receptor protein that helps rapidly detect the neutralizing antibodies. The test can provide results in 15 minutes based on samples collected from a finger prick.

“This kit will be extremely useful to determine whether individuals still maintain high levels of protective immunity so that they do not develop asymptomatic infection and transmit SARS-Cov-2 to vulnerable populations,” Seo said. “This kit also aids in determining when people need a boosting immunization.”

Jeremy Clay, director of MSU’s Office of Technology Management, said the innovation has the potential to fill a significant void in the diagnostic testing market.

“This is another great example of technology being developed at MSU that can make an immediate societal impact,” Clay said. “Receiving an Innovation Award from TechConnect is a strong recognition of the promise this invention holds, and we look forward to continuing our efforts to get this technology to market so it can be put to use in the fight against COVID-19.”

At MSU, Seo has been key in the university’s COVID-19 response by taking on a leadership role in the team responsible for processing COVID-19 diagnostic tests from the university’s John C. Longest Student Health Center. By processing the tests on campus, the health center’s doctors and nurses can deliver more timely results to patients.

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