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Scottish research institutes helping to tackle coronavirus

Hutton Qiagen lab machines have been loaned to the NHS
"Scotland is proud to have some of the world’s leading science and research institutions. During this unprecedented global pandemic, the response of our research institutions in volunteering staff and laboratory equipment has been great to see"

Scotland's Environment Secretary has praised Scottish scientific institutions which normally focus on infectious diseases in livestock, environmental security and nutrition for offering support to tackle coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Scottish Government-funded James Hutton Institute, Scottish Rural College (SRUC), and Rowett Institute are providing vital scientific equipment to help with testing and have volunteered staff to work on projects too.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “Scotland is proud to have some of the world’s leading science and research institutions. During this unprecedented global pandemic, the response of our research institutions in volunteering staff and laboratory equipment has been great to see.

“In the long term, their collective expertise and resources could make a huge difference in accelerating our understanding of, and refining our response to, this virus.

“More immediately, the provision of PPE and laboratory equipment will help our frontline NHS staff to carry on with the incredible work they are doing.”

The James Hutton Institute has loaned two Qiagen QIACube sample processing units to NHS Lanarkshire and NHS Highland. The Institute has also supplied enough eaction plates to carry out almost 10,000 PCR tests, which are used to analyse swab samples during testing for COVID-19. These consumables have been given to testing labs in Edinburgh.

Rowett Institute has loaned two ThermoFisher Applied Biosystems 7500 Real-Time PCR machines and one Qiagen QIACube sample processing unit to NHS Grampian. These machines will increase the number of tests clinical labs can process per day.

The James Hutton Institute is giving international researchers access to a high-performance computing cluster based at its Aberdeen site to help analyse COVID-19 DNA sequences. The Institute has donated masks, safety glasses, over 4500 sterile gloves and more than 1000 overshoes so far to NHS Tayside.

SRUC has provided NHS Dumfries & Galloway with equipment, oxygen and PPE, including 130 sterile gowns, 600 pairs sterile gloves, 100 masks, 150 caps, 100 shoe covers, 100 aprons and 3000 examination gloves.

COVID-19 laboratory testing protocol involves four stages:

  • Swabs taken
  • Nucleic acid (RNA) extraction
  • Real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, RT-PCR
  • Analysis

Patients admitted to hospital where COVID-19 is suspected have upper respiratory tract (throat and nose) swabs taken. Viral genetic material (RNA) is extracted from swab samples under clinical conditions using commercially available kits. This process is automated using a high throughput robotic platform which performs 96 extractions in 96 minutes. 

Checking viral nucleic acid samples for the presence of COVID-19 involves using a molecular biology technique called RT-PCR (reverse transcription real time polymerase chain reaction). This involves measuring amounts of a targeted section of COVID-19 genetic sequence during a series of repeated temperature cycles.

More information from: 

Bernardo Rodriguez-Salcedo, Media Manager, Tel: +44 (0)1224 395089 (direct line), +44 (0)344 928 5428 (switchboard) or +44 (0)7791 193918 (mobile).


Printed from /news/scottish-research-institutes-helping-tackle-coronavirus on 30/10/20 04:57:01 PM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.