One robot, three viruses

How flowbot® ONE helps detect both influenza A/B, RS-Virus, and SARS-CoV-2 in respiratory samples.

As COVID-19 sledgehammered the world, Certe, a regional public health laboratory in the Netherlands, decided to implement flowbot® ONE into their workflow.

It began out of necessity, but soon transformed into much more than that. And now the flowbot® ONE handles both SARS-CoV-2, RS-virus, and Influenza A/B in their lab.

Speeding up RNA extractions

The simplicity of the flowbot® ONE opened up a lot of doors.

Certe started out by creating a rapid semi-automated RNA extraction method by combining the flowbot® ONE with an RNA/DNA Swab kit which enabled them to speed up the extraction process.

“Combining the flowbot® ONE with the EchoLUTION Viral RNA/DNA Swab kit was a different way of working than our semi-automatic extraction robots. With middleware from LabHelp, we created a very efficient and innovative workflow. The combination allowed us to speed up the extraction significantly which was crucial for keeping up with high number of COVID-19 tests,” says PhD Mirjam Kooistra-Smid, medical molecular microbiologist at Certe.

During the height of the pandemic, the flowbot® ONE handled around 1500-1800 samples per day.

RNA extraction of 1500-1800 samples includes a ton of manual pipetting. To free up the technicians and keep up with demand, we automated the process. Aside from gaining higher throughput, it minimized cross-contamination which is vital when handling patient samples that may contain high viral loads.

PhD Richard de Boer, molecular biologist at Certe.

It took no more than a few hours to change the middleware from the LDT SARS-CoV-2 PCR assay to the commercial assay that can detect Influenza A/B, SARS-CoV-2, and RS-virus.

PhD Richard de Boer, Molecular Biologist, Certe.

Multi-purpose pipetting

As the pandemic decelerated, the flowbot® ONE was no longer urgently needed for COVID-19 testing. However, its help was soon called for elsewhere;  Certe has recently used it for getting through the flu season – another busy time for them.

Over the winter, it helped determine influenza A/B and RS-Virus in addition to SARS-CoV-2 in respiratory samples.

“It’s very beneficial to have an assay that can detect both SARS-CoV-2, RS-virus, and Influenza A/B. The flowbot® ONE scripts were identical, so it was an easy adjustment to make by the laboratory technicians,” explains Richard de Boer and finishes:

“The flowbot® ONE has a vital role in future-proofing our lab because it’s always ready to lend a hand when we have to perform high-volume respiratory testing.”

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About Certe

Certe is an organization for integrated medical diagnostics and advice for primary and secondary healthcare. They provide high-quality medical diagnostics and derived products and services for healthcare providers and their patients.

Hospitals, doctors and general practitioners, midwives and hundreds of thousands of people have been relying on their care for many years.

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