Colombian biotechnology company advances in COVID-19 diagnostics


With advances in the development of reagents, the adaptation of laboratories and the import of robots, a Colombian company in the biotechnology sector is working on the diagnosis of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in the country, where there are already 2,852 infected with the pathogen that causes the COVID-19 disease.

The last three weeks have been frantic for the Gentech Genetics and Technology company, according to Efe, its manager and founder, Jairo Alberto Colorado, a chemical technologist from the University of Antioquia who leads a team of 19 people in Medellín who supply of molecular biology supplies and laboratory equipment.

"They gave us the opportunity to install and run two laboratories in Antioquia in order to help save many lives," said Colorado, who lamented the lack of supplies in the country to do this type of examination.

This company, dedicated to science 18 years ago, supports with its technology the laboratories of Seguros Sura Colombia and the CES University - enabled with diagnostic aids - by intervening in the entire virus detection process.

As explained by Colorado, the company provides means for collecting and transporting samples, a kit for manual and automated extraction of nucleic acids (viral RNA), kit for the detection of SARS-CoV-2, biosecurity supplies for the process, automated equipment. extraction and detection with real-time PCR technology.

"It has been a great challenge to be able to contribute to these institutions at this time. It is a source of pride and joy to be able to do so at the right times in a third world country," he said.

ADVANCES IN REAGENTS

Colorado noted that working for years with a focus in the area of ​​molecular biology prepared them to meet the challenge of COVID-19 disease, for which they learned from experience with H5N1 influenza in 2010, and from viruses such as those of zika, dengue and chikungunya.

"We are trained in this and we have been able to respond, even though at times there is a bitter pill to not feel the support of the Government," said the chemist, stressing that biotechnology "was able to respond to the identification of the genetic material of this virus".

In addition to providing solutions ranging from swabs and safety suits to technology consulting, sample processing and interpretation of results, Gentech has managed during the pandemic to advance the development of reagents used for the SARS-CoV-2 tests.

To do this, his team, made up of biologists and chemists, concentrated for ten days on making "validations and protocols" of reagents and materials that were not initially designed to work with genetic material from the pathogen.

"We fine-tuned it in our laboratory and managed to obtain consistent results, and have already been adopted by clients," revealed the businessman, who stressed that biotechnology has gained "visibility" after years of working "behind the scenes."

ROBOTS AND MORE TESTING

To strengthen the work of the laboratories during the pandemic, Gentech managed to enter the country 65,000 diagnostic tests, with the pertinent and legal information to be delivered to its clients, which will allow a greater impact on the containment of the virus.

Colorado, which found the financial backing of the Interact Corporation, explained that to import products for the diagnosis of coronavirus, the test extraction material comes from China and Canada, while the detection material comes from the United States.

"We are currently nationalizing three robots so that our clients can optimize and increase the processing of their samples at the laboratory level, and obviously deliver faster results," revealed Colorado, who said that the most difficult has been "importing the technology by the regulatory bottleneck and the issue of corruption. "

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