Loughborough Echo

Covid test lab reopens


- By DAVID OWEN News Reporter

A “STATE-OF-THE-ART” Covid-19 testing laboratory in Loughborou­gh is to reopen - just four months after it was closed.

The former Lighthouse Lab, at the town’s Charnwood Campus science and enterprise park, had launched with some fanfare in November last year, creating 400 jobs.

There was surprise just a few months later, when it was announced the facility - operated by internatio­nal diagnostic­s firm Perkinand capable of processing 50,000 coronaviru­s tests in a single day - was decommissi­oned by the Department for Health and Social Care back in March.

It has now emerged American biotechnol­ogy company Dante Labs has taken on the lab, which will soon resume the work that was being undertaken to help understand the spread and control of the virus.

The firm announced the move on Monday, confirming it will be opening its doors this month, when it will be operationa­l “24 hours a day, seven days a week”.

Dante Labs declared an aim to eventually become a “global centre for excellence” for whole genome sequencing DNA research.

A spokesman for the firm, which has been working with the NHS Test and Trace operation, said it will use “smart automation and machine learning” to ensure “superior precision, sample tracking and quality”.

He said: “The site will employ expert scientists, researcher­s, technician­s and other highly skilled workers, many of whom will be drawn from the local area.

“As such, Dante Labs will benefit from an abundance of top life sciences talent, with some of the UK’s most prestigiou­s universiti­es on its doorstep.”

He added: “The lab hopes to become a destinatio­n for talented graduates looking to take the first step in their life sciences careers.”

The lab’s initial capacity will be 50,000 Covid-19 samples a day.

Andrea Riposati, chief executive at Dante Labs, said its takeover of the facility would speed up the country’s Covid-19 testing capability.

“We’re truly delighted to be moving into the Charnwood Campus,” he said.

“Not only will the lab help accelerate the UK’s Covid-19 testing and sequencing capability, but it will also see us invest in the vibrant local community.

“Our expertise in whole genome sequencing and testing means that this lab will immediatel­y play a crucial role today in managing the Covid-19 pandemic, and in the next decades to enable whole genomebase­d personalis­ed medicine across the world.”

It is hoped that whole genome sequencing - the study of genetic informatio­n - carried out at the lab will also help provide a greater understand­ing of Covid-19 transmissi­bility and variants.

Gosia Khrais, commercial director at Charnwood Campus, said: “All at Charnwood Campus are excited to welcome Dante Labs as new occupiers to the site. The team’s leading life sciences experience, capacity and expertise will be a valuable addition to the campus and the local community.”

He added: “The long-term management of, and research into, Covid-19 is vital work and something we at Charnwood are honoured to be a part of.”

The former Perkin-Elmer Charnwood laboratory shut having completed its six-month contract. In its few months open, it processed over 1.8 million Covid sample results.

The DHSC, explaining its decision not to extend the original lab’s contract, said it had been down to “improved and new technology” allowing it to streamline its Covid testing system.

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 ??  ?? JOBS: The Charnwood Lighthouse Lab, when it was run by Perkin-Elmer
JOBS: The Charnwood Lighthouse Lab, when it was run by Perkin-Elmer

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