Department of Microbiology & Immunology, University of Otago scientists have swiftly adapted overseas technology to help develop a powerful coronavirus test which this week detected Dunedin's first two confirmed COVID-19 cases. The testing device added significantly to the country’s testing capability.
The team on 7th floor in the Quiñones-Mateu lab is responsible for developing a test they have been adapting over the last 6 weeks, that was used to confirm the two recent COVID-19 cases in Dunedin city. Prof Quinones-Mateu, who is also director of the university’s Webster Centre for Infectious Diseases, said the project had involved ‘‘quite a lot of work’’. Some ‘‘really amazing’’ science underlay the project, and he was happy to help contribute to the area where he was now living.
Dr Blair Lawley, who's contribution was critical for developing the test.
The Dunedin team had adapted a German assay (test) to run on a Panther Fusion System — an existing, computerised high-throughput molecular testing machine — and had it available just in time to test the first Dunedin Covid-19 cases. Prof Quinones-Mateu had his team, including Drs Blair Lawley and Rhodri Harfoot, at the department had also been ‘‘extremely helpful’’, he said.
Professor Miguel Quiñones-Mateu - Webster Family Chair in Viral Pathogensis.