Rutgers will provide antibody testing to help determine the incidence and long-term effects of COVID-19 in children as part of an initiative by the National Institutes of Health.

The serological testing, which detects the presence of antibodies directed against proteins produced by SARS-CoV-2 – the virus causing COVID-19 – will be performed in the laboratory of Maria Laura Gennaro, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at the Public Health Research Institute at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and a core faculty member of Rutgers Global Health Institute.

“We will screen for anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies sera from over 30,000 subjects among children and their caretakers enrolled in the pediatric RECOVER cohort,” said Natalie Bruiners, an assistant professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School who will supervise the project.

“One strength of this endeavor is that the SARS-CoV-2 proteins used in the binding assays are produced at Rutgers, using methods we established in more than a decade of HIV research,” said Abraham Pinter, a professor of medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, who directs the laboratory producing the SARS-CoV-2 proteins used for these studies.

As part of the national Researching COVID to Enhance Recovery Initiative (RECOVER), Rutgers is leading a consortium called the Collaborative Long-Term Outcomes of COVID-19 in Kids (CLOCK) and is recruiting more than 2,000 participants for the RECOVER initiative.

“We are delighted by this expansion of the CLOCK contribution to the RECOVER program,” said Lawrence C. Kleinman, professor and vice chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, director of the Division of Population Health, Quality, and Implementation Sciences and the principal investigator for the CLOCK team. “Not only are we recruiting children and young adults along with our partners across the United States, but now Rutgers is able to provide serological services to the entire pediatric RECOVER cohort.”

 The antibody testing will use the resources of the biomarker core of the New Jersey Alliance for Clinical and Translational Science (NJ ACTS), directed by Gennaro and managed by Bruiners. NJ ACTS is directed by Reynold Panettieri, professor of medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and a core faculty member of Rutgers Global Health Institute.

RECOVER is a $470-million initiative funded by the National Institutes of Health to estimate the frequency of long COVID and to understand how and why some people develop long-term COVID-19 symptoms. People with long COVID have prolonged symptoms or develop new or returning symptoms after the initial phase of infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

New York University Langone Health coordinates the RECOVER initiative, launched in 2021. The initiative will continue for four years and will involve about 40,000 adult and pediatric participants throughout U.S. and abroad.

This story originally appeared in Rutgers Today.