Cork scientists lead development of key chemical needed for Covid-19 testing

Cork scientists lead development of key chemical needed for Covid-19 testing
Cork scientists have led an initiative to protect frontline staff by developing a lysis buffer, needed in the testing of Covid-19.

A team of Cork scientists have joined forces with fellow scientists across the country to formulate the chemical reagent needed to test for the Covid-19.

The spread of Covid-19 has meant an increased need in testing for the virus.

The increased testing has resulted in a worldwide shortage of chemical reagents required to test for the virus, resulting in limited ability of labs to carry out sufficient testing.

The best way to detect and diagnose COVID-19 infection is using a test called RT-PCR. This test looks for the unique RNA nucleic acid, signature of the virus.

A team of hospital, university and biopharma scientists including scientists from University College Cork, Cork University Hospital and Cork Institute of Technology have come together to formulate a lysis buffer required to isolate viral RNA which will allow the country’s laboratories to continue testing for Covid-19.

Working remotely, the team of scientists formulated and validated a lysis buffer suitable to be used in hospital testing labs in the timeframe of one week.

Researchers made up the formulations and medical scientists in CUH evaluated each of them for efficacy using known positive and negative virus samples.

The most suitable formulation of the lysis buffer can now be distributed to hospital testing labs.

Dr Martina Scallan of the School of Microbiology said: “This buffer will ease the burden on hospital labs in their heroic efforts to screen and deliver diagnostic data.” 

The initiative was spearheaded by UCC and Dr Brigid Lucey, President of ACSLM at CIT in an effort to protect frontline staff.

“Hopefully these efforts can help protect all the frontline medical, scientific and support staff in this battle to fight COVID-19,” Dr Lucey said.

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