LabCorp (LH) on Thursday announced the launch of a new test targeted to assess the capacity of antibodies in patient plasma to inhibit the coronavirus.
Information from the neutralizing antibody test could be used for the development of COVID-19 vaccines and for the screening of convalescent plasma for prophylactic and therapeutic use, the life sciences company said. The test will be available to biopharmaceutical companies, hospitals, blood banks and other plasma-screening facilities, it added.
“By leveraging our drug development and diagnostic capabilities, we are working tirelessly to find solutions to prevent and treat COVID-19,” said Paul Kirchgraber, CEO of LabCorp’s Drug Development business. “The launch of this neutralizing antibody assay is the latest effort in our company’s commitment to accelerate the evaluation of vaccine candidates so that a successful candidate may reach patients sooner.”
As the research for a safe and effective vaccine continues, some clinicians are relying on the serum collected from convalescent patients who had COVID-19 to support treatment of the severely ill. As research advances, the test may be an essential element in detecting the neutralizing antibody activity correlated with the therapeutic efficacy of convalescent plasma administration, as well as the immunity of vaccine candidates.
“This assay, available only through LabCorp, is based on a proven and trusted platform that has been used for decades in the evaluation of vaccine candidates designed to prevent other viral infections, including HIV, Ebola virus, influenza virus, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV),” Kirchgraber said.
LabCorp shares have surged 51% since plunging to a low in March. The stock depreciated 3.2% to $157.09 on Wednesday.
Earlier this month, Robert W. Baird analyst Eric Coldwell raised the firm’s price target to $219 from $199 and maintained a Buy rating on the shares, saying that its multiple materially lags broader indices so if the company can execute, the stock potential is “tantalizing”.
Overall, the stock scores 10 Buy ratings from analysts versus 3 Hold ratings adding up to a Strong Buy consensus. The $213.27 average price target indicates 36% upside potential in the shares in the coming 12 months. (See LabCorp stock analysis on TipRanks).
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