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Your help needed: Crowdsource challenge to assist COVID-19 lab testing

Update 18 April 2020

The Testing Methods Crowdsourcing Platform has now announced a fifth challenge that they are looking for ideas and input on:

  • Examples where small volume blood collection, coupled with elution where relevant, can be used for COVID-19 antibody testing for immediate or very rapid roll out.

11 April 2020

A new crowdsourcing platform has been set up to allow researchers to share ideas and learn from each other's experiences around lab testing for COVID-19.  The website is https://testingmethods.crowdicity.com/. This project is a partnership between the Department of Health and Social Care, the UK Bioindustry Association, British In Vitro Diagnostics Association and the Royal College of Pathologists. 

They are seeking new and novel solutions to help deliver 100,000 coronavirus tests a day in the UK by the end of April. There are four challenges that they want scientists help on.  You are encouraged to submit any ideas you have on these challenges over the Easter weekend and the results will be reviewed this Tuesday (14 April) to see if they can be built into immediate practice to speed up UK Covid testing.  You can submit your ideas via the website. 

The first challenges they are looking for input on are:

1. Dry swabs for use in virus detection - A key element of speeding up the end to end testing process is the availability of swabs that can be used easily and reliably to detect the virus in a range of different swabbing applications and age groups including for use in home testing and which can be used with multiple extraction platforms.

2. Transport media that inactivates the virus - In order to increase laboratory throughput, they are looking at ways to minimise processes including the need to handle test samples in Category 2+/3 facilities. They are looking for transport media solutions that inactivate the virus reliably or do not add significant steps to the laboratory process or impact on viral detection.

3. Desktop PCR equipment for point of care testing - Taking samples and transporting them to testing labs takes time and may not always represent the best approach within clinical pathways. They are looking for the potential to add testing capacity through reliable and standards based testing at the point of care with desktop PCR machines that allow for fast, accurate and safe results for the operator.

4. RNA extraction: new methods - RNA extraction capacities are currently challenged even with automated platforms. They seek new methods of extracting viral RNA or enabling viral detection without an extraction step would help remove this bottleneck, as long as they are “ready to go” and can be integrated into existing or optimised PCR testing chains.

Please enter any ideas you have around this challenges via the Testing Methods website: https://testingmethods.crowdicity.com/

Please also highlight this opportunity via your networks with the hashtag #TestingMethods2020.