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Core competence: Fast adaptation to urgent research requirements

30-03-2020

With Denmark closed down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a very large fraction of public research institutions and industry laboratories sent their staff home. These sections represent the majority of BioXpedia’s customers, so how does this situation affect the daily life in a contract research laboratory, short term and longer term?

Laboratory still running
At BioXpedia the COVID-19 crises has had a significant impact on daily life in laboratories and offices. The company has taken all recommended precautions and several employees work from home. However, the laboratory is still running with important analysis services for research customers. This is despite the fact that closed labs and many functions in the hospital brought to a minimum in order to optimize COVID-19 treatment has caused an inevitably lag in the production and/or collection of samples and specimens to be analysed.

Immediate need for research
“Overall we welcome all initiatives that may increase the understanding of COVID-19 and the treatment of the disease. Our wish is to be able to facilitate research projects providing laboratory analyses and expertise, “says Mogens Kruhøffer, CEO of BioXpedia and explains: “There is an immediate need for research to increase knowledge about the COVID-19 disease biology as well as developing potential treatments to decrease mortality. In this respect it is fair to say, that our scientific and skilled analysis competences combined with our most important competence, which is our ability to very fast adapt and understand the need for specific analyses services, make us able to support urgent research requirements.”

Testing of SARS-CoV-2
Early March, BioXpedia contacted research and testing departments at hospitals to offer services relating to corona virus. Now the company provides support to improve the ability to conduct an increasing number of corona-virus testing in Denmark. In the past weeks, BioXpedia has been involved in more and more initiatives related to the Covid-19 pandemic offering testing of SARS-CoV-2.

“Our approach is to extract RNA from samples and run Q-PCR analysis for genes specific for SARS-CoV-2 on the Fluidigm Biomark HD system. This system allows us to analyse 24 target genes total in parallel per sample, allowing testing for additional viral respiratory diseases. Furthermore we have supported researches developing new ideas and advised on technological solutions for conducting research on the disease biology of COVID-19,” says Mogens Kruhøffer:” As an example, we use our Immuno-PCR services (Olink) with protein screening for immune or inflammatory response markers in plasma samples, where 92 proteins can be measured in 90 samples in parallel. This may help understanding the highly different course of disease in people affected by COVID-19. It may even be possible to develop a prognosis biomarker or biomarker signature. We also use our NanoString gene expression profiling services, where we study gene expression related to immune and inflammatory responses to achieve knowledge of the biology of infection or response to treatments.”

COVID-19 has alerted many researchers and clinicians, who might want to understand the variation in symptoms, related to the virus infection and may wish to determine specific SNPs in the human genome to evaluate their hypothesis. The service to do this is SNP genotyping, where BioXpedia has the capacity to run more than 50.000 samples per month.

Funding of disease biology and possible treatment
The Novo Nordisk Foundation, The Lundbeck Foundation, The Ministry of Higher Education and Science and others have provided urgent funding to increase the knowledge about COVID-19 disease biology and possible treatment to decrease the mortality of the virus. BioXpedia are contributing to applications for funding of projects within this area, as samples and specimens have to be collected when the pandemic is ongoing.

For more information on BioXpedia’s services related to studying responses to COVID-19 infection or treatment, please see https://www.bioxpedia.com/covid-19-services/

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