We were thrilled to see our client Optigene featured in the Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s press briefing last week (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-52762153) announcing the team’s ground-breaking COVID-19 testing due to be trialled in Hampshire.
This new COVID-19 test could potentially offer a result in as little as 20 minutes, because the testing is carried out on-site (using our plastic injection moulded GENIE II) rather than having to be sent to a lab – delaying the process. If successful, Optigene’s test would inevitably save lives.
Images of the GENIE II were televised across headline news, as the totally brilliant and innovative Optigene team work against the clock to create an accurate, faster swab test.
We are extremely proud to have played a small part by helping Optigene develop this portable device, fully accessible to scientists, so DNA testing can be carried out cheaply, quickly and on-site. From first concept drawings, we carried out a full design for manufacture, CAD and quality review for the GENIE II, so it could house and protect specialist technology and electrical components, plastic injection moulding the four component parts. No stranger to national press, the GENIE II made its TV debut on BBC news back in 2012.
With the help of GENIE II, Optigene’s antigen test will show whether you currently have the virus, different from antibody tests which indicate whether you’ve previously had it.
The test will be trialled in A&E departments, GP testing hubs and care homes across Hampshire over a period of 6 weeks, following effective results in clinical settings (Source: Department of Health.) Such rapid results could mean health workers could be tested and either isolate or return to work the same day, rather than having to wait longer as they do with the current PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing for the results.
We wish Optigene all the best with the pilot, which the Department of Health have suggested will be rolled out more widely, if successful.
Matt Hancock, Health Secretary said: “This new test could provide accurate results almost on the spot. This will enable health and care workers to carry on with their shift or immediately isolate on the same day and could eventually offer the same benefit to the whole country.
This could change the way that we control Covid-19 across the country, getting those with negative results back into society as quickly as possible. I am hugely grateful for everyone in Hampshire for making this innovation possible.”
Hampshire Hospital NHS Trust chief executive Alex Whitfield was reported to have said: “That we are able to do so is a testament to the hard work and ingenuity of our entire microbiology department, from clinical scientists and the laboratory team to volunteers from academia and industry as well as the staff on the wards.”
Congratulations to the Optigene team for all their work so far and we look forward to hearing more about the Hampshire trials in the coming weeks.
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