How can genomic centers, clinical labs, and healthcare facilities transition from manual low volume sample throughput too high throughput testing facilities, running 10k to 20k samples, per day?
The challenges that lie ahead of us
As the world faces challenges never before seen due to the current global pandemic caused by COVID-19, we all have concerns with what life is going to look like moving forward. But, before we start looking too far into the future, we have to deal with the current situation and the lack of testing capabilities. The current backlog of tests keeps growing and results typically take 3-7 days to receive. There simply has to be more throughput and facilities capable of receiving and safely processing a high volume of samples. So, how can genomic centers, clinical labs and healthcare facilities transition from manual low volume sample throughput (2,000 samples, per day) to high throughput testing facilities which can run 10,000 – 20,000 samples, per day?
Getting the facility prepared to handle potential contagious specimens
First, the facility’s directors will have to start drawing out plans to adjust airflow and perhaps even build temporary walls to segregate all Covid-19 testing from other areas of the lab and create cleanroom space.
Along with the conversion of lab space, the CDC recommends that the laboratory should be a BSL2 facility at a minimum, which needs to be taken into consideration during re-design.
Secondly, the facility needs to consider equipment such as Bio Safety Cabinets (BSC’s) for sample preparation, where the sample goes through a process called Lysis, which is the breaking down of the cell membrane and aids in the separation of proteins. After the Lysis process, the sample is added into a Lysate buffer solution, which helps release soluble proteins. Once in the buffer, the samples no longer have to be handled within a BSC. They are transferred into well plates and then can be transported to a high throughput liquid handling machine to proceed with the process of RNA extraction. All liquid handlers should however be placed in a (containment ventilation enclosure) CVE to protect from potential splashes and any possible aerosolization of the sample.