Photo: Accelerbiotics

Using gene technology to trace coronavirus

Wednesday 08 Jul 20

Contact

Simo Abdessamad Baallal Jacobsen
Laboratory Technician
DTU Biosustain
+45 29 88 00 48
Danish biotech start-up will use technology to purify genetic materials to screen and analyse coronavirus test samples.

The biotech start-up Accelerbiotics—which originates from DTU Biosustain—is preparing to accelerate the development of its gene technology to diagnose COVID-19 and any future pandemics more efficiently.

This occurs after the start-up has received an additional grant of DKK 94,000 from Innovation Fund Denmark. The additional grant is given to enterprises and start-ups that have had difficult conditions during the coronavirus crisis. It comes in continuation of Accelerbiotics having received a grant from InnoBooster earlier in the year for the project ‘High-throughput electrophoresis and high-throughput electro-purification/transfection’.

“The extra grant will be used for new activities in continuation of our original project,” says Simo Abdessamad Baallal Jacobsen, CEO of Accelerbiotics and Laboratory Technician at DTU Biosustain.

“As our technology can both purify genetic materials like DNA and RNA and analyse purified genetic materials, we decided to streamline our technologies so that they can also be used to purify and analyse RNA from coronavirus or other viruses. The objective is to accelerate the diagnosis of COVID-19 and any future pandemics.”

Optimized and automated

Accelerbiotics is already in the process of further developing and testing two technological platforms which can perform so-called electrophoresis, purification, and electroporation. Electrophoresis forms part of the testing of genes and proteins, and it is widely used in research, disease testing, and in forensic cases to identify criminals and create DNA profiles.

Today, this is largely done manually—resulting in slow and time-consuming processes—as there are typically many samples that need to be analysed at the same time. With the newly developed technology, researchers can purify biomolecules like DNA, RNA and proteins faster, cheaper, and more sustainably because the electrodes are reused.
Also electrophoresis—which is used to separate small genetic constituents—can be done more quickly than normally. The reason is that the technique for filling samples and reading results has been optimized and automated.

Physically, the technology consists of a machine that can handle more than one thousand samples concurrently. The machine is equipped with a camera technology that can read the test results at lightning speed.

“The strategy for diagnosing COVID-19 is to purify both human RNA and virus RNA from the samples and ascertain whether the sample contains virus RNA,” says Simo Abdessamad Baallal Jacobsen. He thinks that the project has great potential:

“In several parts of the world, hospitals, clinics, and laboratories are facing challenges in testing people infected with coronavirus because of the lack of kits and equipment.”

“We’ve also seen how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted the world’s economies negatively, and how the pandemic has challenged all international healthcare systems and existing life science solutions. New and effective solutions are therefore urgently needed— both for the current pandemic and for future pandemics.”

The product will be tested in collaboration with Danish hospitals. At the same time, Accelerbiotics will apply for CE approval, which certifies that the product complies with EU legislation. The researchers will also apply for approval of the product from the Danish Medicines Agency.

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