COVID-19 watch

Texas company receives emergency authorization for its COVID-19 antibody test

The FDA has fast-tracked this Austin company's COVID-19 antibody test. Photo courtesy of Babson

A Texas medical company is leading the fight against COVID-19. On June 25, Austin-based Babson Diagnostics announced it has received an emergency use authorization from the Food & Drug Administration for its SARS-CoV-2 IgG Antibody Test.

The blood test helps identify if a person has an "adaptive immune response to SARS-CoV-2 [aka COVID-19]" by testing for antibodies. Antibodies are proteins that help fight off infections and usually provide immunity, though the Centers for Disease Control cautions that this is not yet known for COVID-19 antibodies.

"Not only is serology a crucial tool for the research and understanding of COVID-19, we believe it will become an essential component of ongoing preventive medicine," said Eric Olson, Babson's founder and CEO, in a release. "The early success of our assays, combined with our ongoing clinical studies and research partnerships, will provide pivotal insights into COVID-19 immunity and help us develop future generations of tests."

Babson is one of only five clinical laboratories to receive emergency use authorization from the FDA for a serology (blood) test, including the prestigious Mount Sinai Laboratory - Wadsworth Center in New York.

Since Babson launched its test in Austin on April 30, it's been offering it for free to frontline and healthcare workers. It's also working with research centers, including Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin, to conduct clinical studies to help with COVID-19 research — and future pandemics.

"When COVID-19 hit the U.S. and eventually Austin, the Babson team was inspired to contribute to the fight against one of the largest threats to global health in generations," said Chris DiPasquale, director of assay development for Babson. "While launching the aC19G1 test has been a significant achievement for Babson, it is only the first step in supporting long-term public health and national security."

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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Building Houston

 
 

You can order Mala Sichuan to be delivered thanks to newly launched Chowbus. Photo by Isabel Protomartir

A new delivery app wants to make it easier for Houstonians to access the best dishes from Chinatown. Chowbus, a nationwide service that focuses on Asian cuisines, has arrived in Houston.

Among the 80-plus restaurants available at launch, diners may use the app to order dishes from Chinatown favorites such as Mala Sichuan Bistro, Arco Seafood, and Ocean Palace as well as relative newcomers like Chengdu Taste, Chongqing Chicken Pot, and Meet Fresh. Deliveries are available from 11 am to 10 pm to points within the Houston city limits as well as to suburbs such as Pearland, Sugar Land, and Katy.

Customers pay a delivery fee that costs between $2.99 and $4.99 depending on their proximity to the restaurant, but the app does provide a bundling option that allows people to order dishes from multiple restaurants without paying an additional fee. True die-hards can subscribe to Chowbus Plus; for $9.99 per month, all deliveries over $25 are free and deliveries between $15 and $25 cost $1.99.

"We are excited to roll out our service to the Houston community," Chowbus co-founder and CEO Linxin Wen said in a statement. "The city is known for its vibrant culinary scene, which includes tons of great authentic Asian restaurants. We're proud to help Space City discover them."

Beyond helping restaurants expand their reach, Chowbus aims to be a good partner to its restaurants by providing them with analysis of best-selling dishes as well as high quality digital photography. On average, Chowbus claims to boost delivery revenue by 25-percent for restaurants on the platform.

"We're thrilled by the opportunity to partner with Chowbus," said Shanjian Li, the owner of Chongqing Chicken Pot, a Szechuan restaurant in Chinatown's Bellaire Food Street complex. "We hope this will help more Houstonians discover the flavorful dishes that we work so hard to create every day."

Based in Chicago, Chowbus has been a growth spurt. The platform now offers delivery from more than 3,000 restaurants in over 20 cities across North America such as Los Angeles, Seattle, New York, and Boston.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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