March 25 2020 @ 13:13 by Steven Hugill
An education institution has sent specialist equipment to the healthcare frontline to fight the coronavirus outbreak.
Teesside University has supplied kit to North Tees and Hartlepool Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
Officials say the apparatus will support Government efforts to rapidly scale up nationwide monitoring for COVID-19 to 25,000 tests every day over the coming weeks.
Provided by the university’s new £22 million Darlington-based National Horizons Centre, bosses say the equipment includes a QIAcube Connect Platform from QIAGEN and RNeasy extraction kits, which speed up the testing process.
The kit will be used to automate extraction of COVID-19 viral RNA from several clinical specimens, which will be instrumental in helping scale up to the expected demand for coronavirus testing.
In addition, the university has offered lab and bench space, as well as scientists within the National Horizons Centre to help run the tests.
It has also offered the Trust other consumables that are currently in short supply, such as gloves and pipettes, as well as PCR machines to run tests and a system for high-throughput sequencing of the virus.
Professor Vikki Rand, head of biosciences research in Teesside University’s School of Health & Life Sciences and the National Horizons Centre, said: “The coronavirus outbreak is a global health emergency placing a considerable amount of strain on our fantastic NHS.
“We have access to high-tech, specialist equipment, as well as world-renowned expertise within the National Horizons Centre, and we are happy to be able to lend our support in this way.
“It may only make a small difference but anything that can help to speed up the process and help more people to be tested for this virus is a positive measure.”