Carlsbad company’s sequencing technology IDs COVID-19 strains

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Thermo Fisher says its Ion AmpliSeq SARS-CoV-2 Research Panel provides results in about 24 hours, and can rapidly identify which strain of the virus is present, helping medical professionals track its spread and contain potential hot spots. (Thermo Fisher)

CARLSBAD (CNS) – A Los Angeles hospital recently was able to rule out on-site COVID-19 transmission between virus patients and infected health care workers through the use of Carlsbad-based Thermo Fisher Scientific’s next- generation sequencing technology, the company said Wednesday.

Thermo Fisher says its Ion AmpliSeq SARS-CoV-2 Research Panel provides results in about 24 hours, and can rapidly identify which strain of the virus is present, helping medical professionals track its spread and contain potential hot spots.

Recently, the panel was used to debunk whether transmission of the novel coronavirus may have spread on-site between four infected health care workers at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and a patient and his mother, all of whom showed signs of COVID-19 at around the same time.

Sequencing on the six individuals showed the mother and son had “nearly identical strains of the virus,” while the health care workers “had strains only distantly related to each other and to the family,” confirming the virus had not been spread between the two parties at the hospital.

“The NGS sequence data permitted Children’s Hospital Los Angeles to draw conclusions within 48 hours of sample procurement from the six individuals,” said Dr. Timothy J. Triche, co-director of the Center for Personalized Medicine at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. “This information gave leaders at our institution greater confidence in our ability to provide a safe environment for our patients and our team members.”

Thermo Fisher says technology like this will play a role in helping health care professionals track the virus as governments loosen public health restrictions in an effort to restart the economy.

“The desire to get the global economy moving again responsibly is driving the need for advanced NGS technology that can quickly track the virus and enable health agencies to determine next steps,” said Peter Silvester, senior vice president and president of Life Sciences Solutions at Thermo Fisher Scientific. “Access to rapid, simple and automated sequencing with the Genexus System can accelerate development of critical data to help stay ahead of COVID- 19.”

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