About the project
We are currently witnessing major problems with the availability of vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, due to the biologically necessary evolution of the SARS-CoV-2 virus against the background of a relatively massive infection of the population, new viral strains are emerging, which enable the virus to acquire new, epidemiologically dangerous properties. The already known viral strains are associated with lower efficacy of even the most advanced vaccines currently available. For detailed monitoring of viral evolution and mass infection of the population with new variants, it is therefore necessary to use the advanced tools of molecular genetics, not only on a research basis but also in laboratory medical practice which has tools for routine extensive testing at the population-wide level.
For this purpose, however, it is necessary to prepare simple and quick laboratory tests, the composition of which can be adjusted ad hoc with regard to the currently relevant variants/strains. Such a modification, or possibly updating of the kits requires different lengths of time for their development and validation in conventional commercial solutions. Therefore, it would be ideal to be able to handle such a process and introduce it into the routine directly in the testing laboratories in the shortest time possible. Simultaneously, it is necessary to design the test so that it can be automated as much as possible in order to achieve the highest possible laboratory performance while minimizing errors caused by human factor.
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The availability of virtually unlimited supply of individual biocomponents represents a chapter on its own in ensuring the availability of large-scale testing in the implementation of laboratory analyzes based on NAT (nucleic acid techniques) methods. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were exactly confronted with the significant problems related to the availability of analytical kits. This makes it allto more important to have a solution ready to cover the provision of key components, which proved to be another bottleneck limiting the possibilities of laboratory testing at the beginning of the pandemic. The presented project therefore deals with all the above-mentioned problems in the context of the current pandemic (relatively universally applicable to possible future new pandemics):
- design and validation of new testing kits used for routine laboratory testing of SARS-CoV-2 suspect samples;
- ensuring virtually unlimited availability of key testing kit components from “own” resources;
- automation of laboratory processes to achieve high laboratory performance with regard to potential use in high-throughput testing;
- introduction of methods for the identification and ongoing monitoring of new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus;
- introduction of methods and procedures for the identification of new pathogens with pandemic potential.
RNDr. Gabriel Minárik, PhD., RNDr. Renata Lukačková, PhD., Zavedenie a vývoj molekulového testovania SARS-CoV-2 – retrospektívny a prospektívny pohľad; labMED 2021/20, s. 5-6; ISSN 1339-7192.
- (článok vznikol vďaka podpore v rámci Operačného programu Integrovaná infraštruktúra pre projekt: Výskum progresívnych metód diagnostiky COVID-19 a biomarkerov umožňujúcich skorú detekciu jedincov so zvýšeným rizikom ťažkého priebehu ochorenia, kód ITMS: 313011ATA2, spolufinancovaný zo zdrojov Európskeho fondu regionálneho rozvoja.)