A specialist NHS laboratory, hosted by Newcastle Hospitals, is helping to accelerate the development of new, cutting-edge COVID-19 tests, as well as technologies that could give an early warning of virus threats
A North-East NHS lab is accelerating the development of the next generation of virus testing and has already made a vital contribution to efforts to detect and contain outbreaks of COVID-19. The Innovation Lab, based at the Biosphere in Newcastle Helix and hosted by The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, is celebrating one year since it was first established. The unit has been set up to facilitate collaboration between universities, healthcare organisations and industry, with the aim of bringing new approaches and technology to mainstream use.
The evaluation of new diagnostics at the Innovation Lab is helping to not only tackle the current pandemic but also to ensure testing stays one-step ahead of future virus threats. The work being carried out at the Lab aims to help improve the rapid detection of infections such as sepsis, SARS-CoV-2, RSV and influenza – providing infection prevention teams with vital diagnostic tools to identify and manage outbreaks.
The Innovation Lab works in close partnership with its sister Lighthouse COVID testing lab, in Gateshead, which has allowed the development of a substantial biobank at the Innovation Lab, currently holding 15,000 COVID-19 samples. This offers wider industry access to samples that are vital to carry out development and evaluation of testing technologies. The Innovation Lab has worked closely with the Lighthouse Lab to support the team with setting up new variant of concern services as quickly as possible.
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