UofL lab tests thousands of COVID-19 samples, plans to expand – WLKY Louisville

Posted By on April 10, 2020

Researchers at the University of Louisville have processed more than 2,000 coronavirus test kits, less than a month after developing the ability to test samples for the virus. Dr. Kenneth Palmer, director of the university's Center for Predictive Medicine for Bio-defense and Emerging Infectious Diseases, said the center has sidelined most of its other research to study COVID-19. The researchers, Palmer explained, followed news of the coronavirus spreading in Wuhan, China and knew their focus would soon shift. "We knew that it was going to come out of China and that it was going to be a problem everywhere," he said "We hoped it wouldn't, but we strongly suspected it would." The center received the virus in mid-February and quickly got the internal approvals necessary to handle and study it. "We started intense research on developing a diagnostic, developing therapeutics, developing vaccines," Palmer said. By mid-March, the lab was able to begin testing samples. The researchers accumulate 88 samples from 15 area hospitals and extract the RNA from the virus."The instrument will tell us which samples had virus in them, and roughly how much virus was in each of those samples," Palmer said. The center has seven researchers plus a division of infectious disease team who collect teh samples from the hospitals. The lab can typically report results back to those hospitals in 24 hours, Palmer said. The number of positive results, he explained, has gone up over time. "At the beginning, we were seeing just one or two positives per plate. In recent days, it's up to about 15 or 16 samples per plate," he said.The lab's testing capabilities are the result of an early investment from the university, which allocated $500,000 for the research. "Because the university felt this was a very important community service," Palmer said. The lab can currently test around 500 samples per day. Additional funding and a grant from the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence has allowed the center to purchase additional equipment to open a second testing lab at the university's Shelby campus. Palmer said this would bring the university's testing capability up to 1,000 tests per day. Palmer said he believes testing a larger swath of the community is vital to combating the virus. "That would have enormous value to public health," he said.

Researchers at the University of Louisville have processed more than 2,000 coronavirus test kits, less than a month after developing the ability to test samples for the virus.

Dr. Kenneth Palmer, director of the university's Center for Predictive Medicine for Bio-defense and Emerging Infectious Diseases, said the center has sidelined most of its other research to study COVID-19.

The researchers, Palmer explained, followed news of the coronavirus spreading in Wuhan, China and knew their focus would soon shift.

"We knew that it was going to come out of China and that it was going to be a problem everywhere," he said "We hoped it wouldn't, but we strongly suspected it would."

The center received the virus in mid-February and quickly got the internal approvals necessary to handle and study it.

"We started intense research on developing a diagnostic, developing therapeutics, developing vaccines," Palmer said.

By mid-March, the lab was able to begin testing samples. The researchers accumulate 88 samples from 15 area hospitals and extract the RNA from the virus.

"The instrument will tell us which samples had virus in them, and roughly how much virus was in each of those samples," Palmer said.

The center has seven researchers plus a division of infectious disease team who collect teh samples from the hospitals. The lab can typically report results back to those hospitals in 24 hours, Palmer said.

The number of positive results, he explained, has gone up over time.

"At the beginning, we were seeing just one or two positives per plate. In recent days, it's up to about 15 or 16 samples per plate," he said.

The lab's testing capabilities are the result of an early investment from the university, which allocated $500,000 for the research.

"Because the university felt this was a very important community service," Palmer said.

The lab can currently test around 500 samples per day. Additional funding and a grant from the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence has allowed the center to purchase additional equipment to open a second testing lab at the university's Shelby campus. Palmer said this would bring the university's testing capability up to 1,000 tests per day.

Palmer said he believes testing a larger swath of the community is vital to combating the virus.

"That would have enormous value to public health," he said.

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UofL lab tests thousands of COVID-19 samples, plans to expand - WLKY Louisville

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