University and local SME receive funding for Covid-19 research

Fri 05 June, 2020
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A successful application by a local company, Life Science Group Ltd (LSG), together with the University of Bedfordshire has resulted in £50,000 of funding from Innovate UK to complete a research project to improve Covid-19 testing.

The research project follows a national call from Innovate UK to develop innovative methodologies to help combat Covid-19. 

LSG and the University are to develop a testing method for Covid-19 that inactivates the virus immediately after the swab sample is taken from patients. This will stop virus in the samples from being infectious and will therefore reduce the risk to workers from when the sample is taken, through transport, to testing in laboratories. In turn, this will also increase the speed of which tests can be done, since more localised facilities will be able to run test samples.

Early validation to determine the effectiveness of the initial formulation has been completed in collaboration with Public Heath England (PHE).

This six-month project will further develop the formulation to ensure that the Viral Inactivation Buffer is safe to use and will also validate the use of the product with the viral testing procedures currently in use. The project will also investigate the ability of the buffer to stabilise samples and produce more consistent testing results.

Dr Robin Maytum, Principal Lecturer in Biomedical Science at the University, will provide the scientific lead on the £50,000 collaborative research project.

Dr Maytum explained: “The development and validation of a Viral Inactivation Buffer is a key aim in improving testing.

“It should eliminate the risks in handling otherwise potentially infectious samples and reduce the number of false negatives in current testing. This will be increasingly important as reliable testing within communities becomes the cornerstone of controlling the spread of the virus.”

Jenny Murray, Managing Director of Life Science Group, said “The Company is delighted to have been successful with this application and to be able to work with University of Bedfordshire on this project.”

“We have been working with PHE since early April to supply tubes for sample collection and this next step will make a huge and immediate difference to how testing for Covid-19 is handled in this country and elsewhere. The entire Team at LSG is delighted that our work is making a difference.”

This research development is key to the success in monitoring and controlling Covid-19 infection throughout communities.

Professor Jan Domin, Executive Dean of Creative Arts, Technologies and Science, said: “We are extremely pleased to be collaborating with Life Science Group and Public Health England on this research project. 

“The fight against Covid-19 is ongoing. This research would eliminate the risk of infection to those key workers who are taking samples, transporting samples and conducting tests to keep us all safe.  

“The joint efforts of the University and Life Science Group to develop a novel Covid-19 Viral Inactivation Buffer will improve the safety of all NHS staff and key workers who are working on the frontline in the fight against this pandemic.”

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