Umeå-based Xerum launched a home testing kit in March that detects antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 - the virus that causes Covid-19. Uptake of the kits was strong, and now the company has been given an important assignment by Sweden’s Folkhälsomyndigheten (the Swedish Public Health Agency).
“This is amazing news”, says Julia Wigren Byström, CEO of Xerum. “We will be responsible for the distribution and analysis of our self-sampling kits as part of a large study being conducted by the Swedish Public Health Agency to measure the number of people in the country who have developed antibodies”.
Some 4,500 individuals have been invited to participate in the study by taking blood samples at home. The blood is collected by pricking a finger and placing it on a filter paper that uses DBS (Dried Blood Spot) technology developed by Swedish company Capitainer AB.
The newly-established Umeå company Xerum only launched its new home antibody testing kit in March. It has now been chosen by the Swedish Public Health Agency for use in its study, starting now in week 17.
“We have been commissioned to send out our testing kits and analyse if there are antibodies in the returned blood samples. We will use the validated analysis method that we previously developed in collaboration with Region Västerbotten. When the tests have been analysed, participants can log into www.direkttest.se to see their test results”, says Julia Wigren Byström.
The aim of the study is to gain a deeper understanding of the spread of infection in the Swedish population, as well as the immune response that is triggered in the body following an infection. The study is one of several being carried out by the Swedish Public Health Agency to gain an overall picture of the spread of infection in the country.
“We are delighted and proud to have been entrusted by the Swedish Public Health Agency to carry out these antibody tests. We hope their choice of sampling method will make more people realise the benefits of home self-sampling, instead of having to give a venous blood sample at, for example, a health centre”, says Julia Wigren Byström, who continues:
“Testing at home means it can be done regardless of where you live, without risk of infection and without the intervention of healthcare staff. Our antibody test is excellent for self-sampling as only a small amount of blood is needed for analysis”.
Since March 1 residents of Västerbotten have been able to order a home testing kit via www.1177.se, and send in their sample for analysis. To date Xerum has performed around 2,500 analyses for Region Västerbotten. Approximately 22 percent of these have been positive for SARS-CoV antibodies.
“In addition to this new assignment from the Swedish Public Health Agency, we continue to perform Coronavirus antibody analyses for Region Västerbotten. The goal is to analyse 5,000 antibody tests. At the end of May the project will be consolidated and evaluated, and the information it provides will be extremely important for future investments and initiatives”, says Julia Wigren Byström.
Demand for the antibody tests was very high in early March, but the pressure has now eased somewhat.
“We have received a lot of encouraging feedback to say how easy it is to have a sampling kit delivered to your home so you can take the sample yourself”, says Julia Wigren Byström.
For further information please contact:
Julia Wigren Byström
076-800 40 95
Umeå Biotech Incubator (UBI) is one of Sweden’s state-of-the-art business incubators within the life sciences. We help researchers to use their data to the benefit of patients and citizens, improving their health. We support and train entrepreneurs in the fields of pharmaceuticals, diagnostics and medical engineering, and act as a bridge between academia, medicine and the business community.