New €4m Molecular Laboratory at UHL

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(UHL) has boosted the hospital’s already significant COVID-19 testing capacity, and provided the potential to increase the scope of molecular testing in infectious diseases, post-pandemic.

The project which cost approximately €4m was funded as part of the national pandemic response.

The new laboratory’s Whole Genome Sequencing capacity, with its ability to detect SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOC), such as the Delta variant of the virus, and track outbreaks in a more accurate and timely manner, could position UHL as an important element in the national response to calls from the European Centre for Disease Control for tracking COVID-19 and its multiplicity of viral lineages.

Dr Patrick Stapleton, Consultant Microbiologist, said the rapid testing capacity for COVID-19 and the Whole Genome Sequencing capacity, were housed in a purpose-built facility that had been developed to the highest possible standards.

“It is very exciting to watch these things come to fruition. Whole Genome Sequencing is now where molecular diagnostics was at 20 years go. It is currently moving out of the academic laboratories and into the clinical laboratories. And it’s in this transition from the academic labs, and into working molecular diagnostic labs in clinical spaces, like this one—that’s the key to maximising benefit for patients, and get it working for patients,” Dr Stapleton said.