Automating Covid diagnostics

Maarten de Groot on introducing a time-saving solution for Covid testing

When Covid-19 hit, the diagnostics market changed dramatically. Hospitals were getting fuller every day as many patients suffered in ICUs due to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. To relieve the pressure on ICUs, a fast diagnostic test result was of crucial value. 

The pressure on hospital and lab workers grew by the day and all the while there was a lack of resources for high-throughput testing. MolGen thought of ways to help solve this problem. The company quickly found that the standard manual decapping of sample tubes and transference of the sample liquids to a deep well plate for DNA extraction were among the most time-consuming activities for lab personnel.

Was there a way to save time and human effort, and eliminate human error when decapping tubes, pipetting the sample liquid out of the tube and transferring the sample into a 96 deep well plate?

Robotic system

The development team of MolGen and its partners created a robotic system to automate this workflow with a high throughput of up to 320 sample tubes per hour. In December 2020, the PurePrep TTR was launched. The system has advanced features such as a swirl in the pipetting head that makes it possible to pipette the sample without having to remove the swab. Further development will also include level sensing of the liquids.

Applying the technology to other sectors

Having this innovation work to improve SARS-CoV-2 diagnostics MolGen is now looking to apply it in other laboratory fields. For example, in the agricultural sector where labs are performing high-throughput DNA extractions for seed breeding. In markets such as biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, bio-veterinary and water science, the PurePrep TTR can be an added value to current workflows. It speeds up time to result, increases the throughput and lowers costs.

MolGen believes that laboratory solutions from different fields could also be of good use in other segments when slightly customised. One of the firm’s visions is to solve existing and emerging laboratory problems by offering safer, faster, more reliable and cost-efficient solutions.

Maarten de Groot is CEO of MolGen

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