The new test uses Fulgent’s two-year-old Picture Genetics home-testing platform. Consumers are mailed a test kit, take a finger-prick blood sample, and enclose the sample in a packet that’s then returned to a Fulgent lab for processing and analysis.
At the lab, Fulgent technicians look for neutralizing antibodies that bind to a specific part of a pathogen such as the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. These neutralizing antibodies have been observed to decrease the rate of SARS-CoV-2 viral infection of cells.
This process is much different from the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique that Fulgent uses in its mainline Covid testing business that has completed roughly 12 million Covid tests to date.
The new antibody test is not aimed at diagnosing whether test subjects have the coronavirus that causes Covid-19; rather it’s aimed at those who either have already had Covid or have been vaccinated and want to determine their level of immunity to potential future infections.
“With the launch of our neutralizing antibody test, we hope to provide patients and health care providers with better data on immunity to Covid-19, whether from the vaccine or a previous infection,” Harry Gao, Fulgent’s chief scientific officer, said in the announcement. “We hope that this test can help determine immunity levels and the need for vaccine boosters across the population and help to improve our country’s overall response to the virus.”
Fulgent shares showed little movement in the trading session following the announcement; the share price dropped 22 cents to $82.81.