With SARS-CoV-2 continuing to spread around the world, testing facilities have become more robust, more established, and more able to quickly process large numbers of tests. The recent crop of mutant strains have made widespread testing both more difficult and more critical, requiring innovations in testing technology. BIOPATH Laboratoires, a medical analysis laboratory in the Hauts de France region of France, is rising to this challenge with the help of the Applied Biosystems TaqPath SARS-CoV-2 Mutation Panel. Hugues Leroy of BIOPATH spoke with us recently.
Why did you choose the TaqMan SARS-CoV-2 Mutation Panel?
BIOPATH previously investigated various testing options, but did not find what they were looking for. When the TaqMan SARS-CoV-2 Mutation Panel became available, they jumped at the opportunity. They were especially impressed with the Mutation Panel’s ability to detect multiple known variants and with Thermo Fisher Scientific’s reputation for delivering quality products. As a facility that processed 25,000 tests per day until early May and has since only required about 12,000 per day, BIOPATH needed a supplier who could provide test kits without delay and in large quantities, which described Thermo Fisher Scientific perfectly.
BIOPATH uses capillary electrophoresis to confirm anomalous test results and otherwise serve as a confirmation step when there is any doubt as to the results of their faster standard assays. This complementary technology makes their workflow more robust and increases certainty in their results while still allowing them to take advantage of the speed, reliability and versatility of the TaqPath SARS-CoV-2 Mutation Panel.
At what stage of your analyses do you use the TaqMan SARS-CoV-2 Mutation Panel?
The mutation panel is BIOPATH’s response to a positive PCR test, used to gather more information about positive samples and in particular to detect and report variants of concern. This process allows BIOPATH to process large numbers of tests and report encounters with variants 20I/501Y.V1 (UK), 20H/501Y.V2 (South Africa), and 20J/501Y.V3 (Brazil) to the French health ministry for epidemiological surveillance and to guide future healthcare efforts. BIOPATH’s customized TaqPath Mutation Panel includes the delH69V70, N501Y, E484k and D80A mutations and BIOPATH is additionally adding L452R and E484Q as of May 31 to increase their versatility and ability to flag more emerging variants.
How do you prepare your plates?
BIOPATH uses automatic pipettors to fill plates in less than 10 minutes each, using all four of their mixes on a single plate. This allows them to examine 96 samples in the following 12-minute read time.
What is the main benefit or feature you like about the TaqMan SARS-CoV-2 Mutation Panel?
The SARS-CoV-2 Mutation Panel takes advantage of robust technology to deliver a fast, reliable testing experience. It features a customizable selection of mutations, which future-proofs the technology against future variants, which makes it BIOPATH’s tool of choice going forward as new variants continue to emerge.