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Published: 2024-05-27

Trio of virus researchers receive award for utilisation

NEWS Mattias Forsell, Johan Normark and Julia Wigren Byström have been awarded Umeå University's and Nordea's Innovation Prize for utilisation 2024. This is for the successful COVID-19 research conducted by a clinician, a preclinical researcher and a biomedical analyst together.

It has really been a journey to start a business, and it is great that our work is being recognized!

The trio works at the Department of Clinical Microbiology at Umeå University. Their successful research has led to new products that have contributed to new, sustainable strategies for sampling and diagnostics. It has also led to collaboration with the surrounding society (the Public Health Agency of Sweden, Region Västerbotten and others) to great benefit for public health.

In their laboratory, an at-home test was developed to measure antibodies against the virus that causes COVID-19. The tests were then used in the Public Health Agency of Sweden's national mapping of the spread of the virus. Today, the technology is being developed further to be used for other diseases, such as vole fever.

The trio started the company Xerum AB, which has developed a sensitive method for analysis of viral antibodies in capillary blood and serum and offers self-sampling in combination with a high-quality analysis of viral antibodies. Via the mobile phone, you could order a sampling kit. The blood sample was sent by post for laboratory analysis by Xerum, and test results were delivered digitally to the mobile phone. During 2021–2023, Xerum has conducted corona antibody analyses in several national population surveys on behalf of the Public Health Agency of Sweden.

"We are very happy and proud to receive this prestigious award! It feels great that we, as researchers at Umeå University, have been able to facilitate testing during the pandemic and give back to society when it was needed most. This has been possible thanks to a good collaboration between academia, healthcare, the industry and the innovation system in Umeå. It has really been a journey to start a business, and it is great that our work is being recognized!” says Julia Wigren Byström.

From the motivation for the nomination:
"In summary, it is fantastic with this translational collaboration between a preclinician (Mattias Forsell), a clinician (Johan Normark) and a biomedical analyst (Julia Wigren Byström), which has resulted in synergy, where the end result far exceeds the individual components."

Xerum AB