Huddersfield scientists respond to a request from 10 Downing Street for high-tech equipment in the Government's efforts to increase the testing of the public for coronavirus

THE University of Huddersfield is continuing to aid the campaign against coronavirus with the donation of large quantities of protective gear for frontline health workers, and also by providing high-tech equipment that will boost the Government’s goal to ramp up the virus-testing regime.

A network of facilities known as Lighthouse Labs has been established, but to scale up their work they need larger numbers of advanced polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machines.  These can take a tiny sample of DNA and amplify it so that it can be studied in detail.

Study Forensic Sciences and Chemistry at Huddersfield

The University of Huddersfield’s School of Applied Sciences possesses a ThermoFisher 7500-Fast PCR machine, used for forensics courses.  When a unit based at 10 Downing Street asked for the loan of the equipment, the School’s Dean, the biochemist Professor Michael Ginger, readily agreed.

“The Government is looking for PCR machines validated for use in a gold standard analytical context.  There is only a finite number in the UK,” he said.

Staff who safely packaged the PCR system were lecturer Dr Kimberley Bexon, researcher Jennifer Pradelli and Biology Technical Team leader Felix Owusu-Kwarteng.  A uniformed naval officer duly arrived at the University and the machine was taken away.  It will now aid the target of carrying out 100,000 Covid-19 tests every day.

The School of Applied Sciences has been examining all its resources, seeking any equipment that can be used to combat the virus.  For example, a cache of 1,500 disposable lab coats has been discovered and handed over as personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.

“We are keen to contribute what we can and there could be more support that we can offer,” said Professor Ginger, Dean of Applied School

Several members of the School of Applied Sciences Technical Support Team acted quickly to identify the PPE that could be sent by the University.

“They’re always conscientiousness and co-ordinated in their teamwork, but here I'm especially grateful for the swiftness of their response under difficult conditions,” said Professor Ginger.

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