Diagnostic Viral Testing
Life science institutes use molecular biology as a tool for a wide range of research fields studying from fundamental processes of cells or organisms, to mechanisms of disease. Having realised that their molecular biology platforms are equipped to perform diagnostic testing for SARS-COV-2, they have quickly set out to implement, validate and accredit diagnostic kits available worldwide. This initiative greatly enhances the capacity of the Portuguese national health system to test its population.
COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing at CEDOC
A team of volunteers of CEDOC – Chronic Diseases Research Centre and NOVA Medical School (NMS) formed a COVID-19 Diagnosis by PCR task force with the purpose of assisting the Portuguese community on the diagnosis for Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The COVID-19 diagnostic will be assessed by a real-time RT-PCR test. Until the beginning of July this team performed more than 6200 diagnosis tests.
NOVA Medical School signed a protocol with Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa regarding the diagnostic tests of SARS-CoV-2 conducted by CEDOC to the users of the Homes of Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa.
Under the partnership established between the Regional Governments of Azores and Madeira and NOVA Medical School, CEDOC is conducting COVID-19 diagnostic tests to anyone traveling to these regions, without costs for the passengers.
Testes - Madeira Testes - Açores
COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing at ITQB NOVA
ITQB NOVA and the Municipality of Oeiras are testing public servants for COVID-19. The Municipality, a key partner of ITQB NOVA, has asked for the institute’s support to test first respondents, such as police officers and firefighters, who are in constant contact with the population. So far, close to 2500 tests have been made, and a total of 12 thousand are expected to be processed until the end of 2020. The Group of Health Centres Lisbon West and Oeiras (ACES-LOO) collects the samples at the Fundição de Oeiras. Those are then inactivated during transport, using a medium implemented at ITQB NOVA in partnership with IGC. At ITQB NOVA, a team of volunteers (students and researchers at ITQB NOVA) runs the RT-PCR tests. The diagnostic tests carried out at ITQB NOVA are certified by the National Institute of Health Doutor Ricardo Jorge.
Other diagnostic viral testing
Alongside the initiatives to increase the capacity for diagnostic viral testing, researchers from institutes of COLife are developing new diagnostic tests.
The goal is to improve existing tests, by simplifying protocols, decreasing costs and increasing scalability while maintaining the test’s sensitivity. All available tests involve multiple steps that allow the isolation, amplification and detection of viral genetic material. Simplification is achieved by skipping some of these steps, optimizing others and using simpler and cheaper equipment.
An effort led by Vasco M. Barreto from CEDOC-NMS, involving his research group, in collaboration with Fabiana Herédia from CEDOC-NMS and Maria João Amorim from IGC. This project is coordinated by António Jacinto from CEDOC-NMS.
Other Collaborative Efforts