from left to right: Vanessa Marani (ABL), Mégane Migliorini (LNS), Dr. sc. Sibel Berger (LNS) and Remon Soliman (ABL)
The Laboratoire national de santé and Advanced Biological Laboratories (ABL) announced the first public-private partnership hosted at our department to develop an innovative diagnostic solution for COVID-19. The project, called INNOV-COV-ID, is co-financed by the Ministry of the Economy.
ABL is a Luxembourg-based company with a focus on infectious diseases such as HIV, hepatitis, and HPV, where they have built a global customer base. With COVID-19, they expanded the operations virtually overnight and now look forward to developing innovation for people with LNS.
This R&D (Research & Development) collaboration will initially be limited to a period of 30 months. The goal is to design holistic applications addressing SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic tools that combine the convenience of self-testing at home via saliva samples with the reliability of PCR testing and whole genome sequencing, which has so far been performed at laboratories and the rapid interpretation or communication of results.
The project aims to provide an Easy-to-use solution to detect COVID19 infections and enable public health players to take appropriate measures quickly and efficiently. The establishment of Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) can be very effective in bringing together complementary expertise to develop new diagnostic solutions. The partnership represents a flagship of the department of Microbiology in its new era of innovation and development as joining forces with industrial partners would allow it to establish its position as a center for excellence in the field of microbiology.
The project is based on different work packages with the first project addressing developing an RT-PCR solution without extraction to detect SARS-CoV-2 variants with a home testing component involving the development and validation of a holistic solution, combining the convenience of self-diagnosis at home via saliva samples with the reliability of the PCR test, which has until now been carried out in the laboratory, and the rapid interpretation or communication of results. The aim is to offer a fast and safe diagnosis of Covid-19, using a secure, CE-IVD marked mobile application. “The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has highlighted the importance of developing such solutions”, says Dr. Tamir Abdelrahman, Head of the Microbiology Department at the LNS.
In this research and development project, the LNS brings its expertise as a national reference laboratory for acute respiratory infections. As LNS Director Prof. Dr. Friedrich Mühlschlegel points out: “The LNS has been at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19 from the very beginning. We have evaluated more than 30 kits for the diagnosis of COVID-19. We are happy to be able to share this experience now, for the benefit of the whole country, with an industrial partner that is recognized, like LNS, beyond the borders of Luxembourg as a leader in innovation.”
ABL, based in Luxembourg for more than 20 years, brings its expertise in the development of web-based diagnostic solutions and software for the healthcare sector. Chalom Sayada, CEO and founder of ABL, added: “We have focused on infectious diseases such as HIV, hepatitis and HPV, for which we have established a global customer base. With COVID-19, we have expanded our business almost overnight and we are now looking forward to developing innovation for people with one of the leading healthcare players in Luxembourg.” After LNS initiated the idea of a collaboration with ABL, a funding application was submitted by the company to the Ministry of Economy. This support made it possible to launch rapidly the INNOV-COV-ID project on a permanent basis.
The partnership had its first scientific communication accepted as poster presentation entitled “ABL pre-treatment: A fast, easy solution for high-quality qPCR samples” where a pre-treatment solution was validated at LNS to offer without extraction RT-PCR diagnostic solution for SARS-CoV-2. The work will be presented in Diagnostic virology session of 41st RICAI 2021 (Interdisciplinary meeting of antimicrobial chemotherapy) in Paris (from 13 to 14/12/2021).