The Laboratoire national de santé (LNS) and Advanced Biological Laboratories (ABL) are joining forces in the fight against COVID-19. To this end, the two laboratories have signed an agreement that provides for the development of an integrated diagnostic solution. The project, called INNOV-COV-ID, is co-financed by the Ministry of the Economy.
This R&D collaboration will initially be limited to a period of 30 months. The LNS will be contributing its expertise as national reference laboratory for acute respiratory infections, a status that puts it at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19. Luxembourg City-based ABL will be providing their expertise in IT-based healthcare technology. The focus will be on developing and validating an integrated solution for quick, accurate and safe COVID-19 diagnosis using using a CE-IVD marked mobile application.
Seeking an integrated rapid testing solution
“The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has highlighted the importance of developing such solutions”, says Dr Tamir Abdelrahman, head of the LNS’s Department of Microbiology. “Our goal is therefore to design holistic applications that combine the convenience of self-testing at home via saliva samples with the reliability of PCR testing, which has so far been performed in laboratories, and the rapid interpretation or communication of results.”
To achieve this goal, the microbiologists at the LNS are entering into a public-private partnership for the first time ever, as LNS Director Prof Dr Friedrich Mühlschlegel emphasises: “The LNS has been at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19 from the beginning. We have evaluated well over 30 kits for the diagnosis of COVID-19. We are pleased to now share this experience, in the interest of the whole country, with an industry partner that is recognised, like the LNS, beyond Luxembourg’s borders as an innovation leader.”
Pertinent innovation for the health sector
Chalom Sayada, CEO and founder of ABL, adds: “We have been developing web and software-based diagnostic solutions for healthcare for more than 20 years now. Our focus has been on infectious diseases such as HIV, hepatitis and HPV, where we have built a global customer base. With COVID-19, we expanded our operations virtually overnight and now look forward to developing innovation for people with one of Luxembourg’s leading healthcare players.”
In addition to providing its technological expertise, ABL will also take over the coordination of the project. Chalom Sayada: “After the LNS approached us with the idea of a collaboration, we immediately defined the possible processes and applied to the Ministry of the Economy for funding within the framework of the INNOV-COV-ID project. This was then granted to us very quickly, so that we are now in a position to jointly launch a sustainable project of undoubted relevance.”
Helping to quickly roll out efficient measures
The relevance of the project is also central for Françoise Liners, head of Health Technologies at the Ministry of the Economy: “Easy-to-use solutions to detect infections help public health players take appropriate measures quickly and efficiently. We are therefore pleased to see two leaders of the Luxembourg Health Tech ecosystem pooling their complementary expertise to jointly create a technology that is sure to impress internationally. The project demonstrates the maturity of this ecosystem, which is an undeniable contributor to the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.”