Bee Robotics developing coronavirus PCR detector

Welsh Government Innovation is supporting Bee Robotics Ltd to develop a Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) detector.

Following the current crisis there will be a continuing need for surveillance for both “herd immunity” using antibody testing and for active carriers using nucleic acid based technology using mouth and nose swabs.

Business Wales reports Bee Robotics aim to adapt their PathoDoc instrument for site laboratory testing of viruses such as coronavirus, but especially Covid-19, in order to undertake community surveillance.

Methods have been developed that can detect nucleic acid in four to ten pooled samples. The adapted PathoDoc can specifically detect and analyse Covid-19 present in the pooled samples from communal groups such as company workforces, primary and secondary school pupils, parents, middle aged and retired people. If a sample pool yields a negative result no active carriers are in the sample. If a sample yields a significant positive test then the NHS/public health will be alerted and further individual testing will be necessary.

The company said “Pooling has a distinct advantage over current methods since the cost per person is significantly lower and the throughput per day is significantly higher.”

The project will result in the introduction of a new analytical process for use in combating the Covid-19 outbreak and other disease monitoring.

Founded in 1999, Bee Robotics is a privately owned company based in Caernarfon who design and manufacture advanced liquid handling robotic solutions for laboratory automation. They employ a highly skilled core team of electronic, mechanical, robotics and software engineers.

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