COLUMBUS, Ohio (January 26, 2021) — Few people outside of research circles know of Battelle Memorial Institute (Battelle), a Columbus, Ohio-based nonprofit research and development organization. But this organization’s influence in many fields, including life sciences, is palpable. With a research budget in the several billion dollar range, the organization, which opened up in 1929 and traces its beginnings to industrialist Gordon Battelle, first focused on contract research and development bids supporting metals and materials science. Today, the impact of Battelle’s research impacts a range of sectors from basic science to the commercialization of life science-based therapies, diagnostics and laboratory testing. Active in the fight against COVID-19, Battelle continues to play a critical role in assessing COVID-19 vaccine candidates. For example, Battelle developed a microneutralization assay to analyze the neutralizing response against the virus in human serum samples. Based on a live SARS-CoV-2 virus, this assay is particularly suited for testing samples from vaccine clinical trials.
Go back a year and there were absolutely no assays that existed for SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind COVID-19. Battelle, along with myriad other public and private laboratories, pharmaceutical companies, government agencies and others raced to develop methods for detecting both the virus and the antibodies to fight it in saliva, blood, and other body fluids.
As the pandemic raged the urgency to find solutions to COVID-19 accelerated not only the pace of drug development as evidenced by thousands of clinical trials and dozens of considerable breakthroughs targeting the pathogen—this progress has been facilitated by an acceleration of information sharing among research institutions such as Battelle.
The Product Funding
This microneutralization assay was made possible by funding from an existing National Institute of Allergy and infectious Diseases (NIAID) contract supporting not only associated process improvements and assay validation but also the sharing of the test with other contract research organizations supporting the federal response to COVID-19.
Importance of Such Assays?
Assays such as the one developed at Battelle contribute greatly to the fight against COVID-19. After all, they can help determine the presence, amount, or function of a substance in a sample—all critically important elements in ongoing COVID-19 research. For example, such assays are utilized in diagnostic technology to assess the effectiveness of potential therapeutics as well as to determine immune response to vaccine candidates.
According to a biologist employed at the Columbus, Ohio lab, Jennifer Garver, the intellectual property underpinnings were already in place as “The basis for the assay is from previous work we’ve done.”
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