June 5, 2020


Connecting People

Michigan Tech Opens COVID-19 Testing Lab

Beginning this week, Michigan Technological University will get started tests affected person samples
for COVID-19, doing the job along with regional health and fitness treatment vendors.

With delays in tests throughout the country, rural and remote locations like Michigan’s
Upper Peninsula have been hard pressed to get enough tests for clients. But there
is hope.

Michigan Tech has partnered with nearby hospitals to begin obtaining and tests affected person samples on campus to help save medical practitioners and health and fitness treatment vendors at the very least 24 hours, and up to a week, of
waiting for COVID-19 examination final results. The lab has the ability to operate forty samples for each
hour on two equipment, and the staff has plans to expand with additional machines and staffing.

 Leading the Lab

Dr. Cary Gottlieb, pathologist from OSF St. Francis Medical center in Escanaba, is the lab
director. The technological sales opportunities are Caryn Heldt and David Dixon, and the staff includes
Steve Techtmann, Ebenezer Tumban, Kristin Brzeski and Carsten Kulheim, with aid
from Karyn Fay, Claire Danielson, Brigitte Morin, Sean Kirkpatrick, Guiliang Tang,
Jennifer Sanders and Julie Seppala. 

For additional information and facts, visit Michigan Tech’s COVID-19 Screening Lab world-wide-web web site or e-mail [email protected]

“The basic safety of our group and our lab professionals is most significant,” explained Dave
Reed, vice president for analysis at Michigan Tech. “We reside in tiny, limited-knit
communities in the UP and we want to choose treatment of each and every other and Michigan Tech can
enable by ensuring men and women get timely and correct COVID-19 examination final results.”

Copper Region Sturdy

Rep. Greg Markkanen and Sen. Ed McBroom helped initiate the lab tests facility and
advocated for examination web sites in the UP.  

“The men and women of the Copper Region and Western UP want to be ready to choose treatment of their
very own,” explained Markkanen, introducing that Michigan Tech’s tests facility eases the strain
on tiny communities’ health and fitness sources. “The Herculean exertion of the people at Michigan
Tech will fulfill our communities’ needs to get tests and final results a lot quicker, so that health and fitness
treatment employees can do their work opportunities and enable observe this disaster.”

Time is of the essence — and so is precision. The Michigan state labs have helped confirm
the precision and protocols in the Michigan Tech facility.

“Fast tests for an disease like the coronavirus is crucial to encouraging take care of clients
who have caught the disease and to enable prevent the distribute,” explained McBroom. “With final results
usually having additional than a week as tests traveled downstate, it was apparent that this
would be a difficulty for the Upper Peninsula. I am very pleased of the industry experts at Michigan
Tech who recognized this challenge, created a system for a lab on campus and turned it
into a actuality.”

Michigan Tech is also doing the job on vaccine engineering and engineering to thoroughly clean individual protection machines (PPE)

Coronavirus Screening

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is prompted by the SARS-CoV-two virus, also referred to as
the novel coronavirus. Similar to SARS and MERS,
as discussed by a single of our Michigan Tech virologists, the virus belongs to the coronavirus family, named for a spiky crown of proteins
around the outside the house shell. 

The examination to affirm a COVID-19 case has two areas and depends on locating the genetic
fingerprint of COVID-19 amongst the pores and skin cells, mucus and microbes collected by a nasal
swab examination. 

 There are two areas in the COVID-19 examination to isolate and detect the virus: RNA extraction
and a polymerase chain response (PCR) examination. Credit: Caryn Heldt

Very first, the genetic code needs to be pulled out of the samples this is referred to as RNA
extraction. Then, using a thermocycler device, the extracted sample is operate by
a polymerase chain response (PCR). The PCR device amplifies genetic code and helps make
it less complicated to obtain the coronavirus RNA fingerprint. Applying particular substances, or reagents,
the PCR device makes a positive or destructive final result, depending on whether or not the virus’s
RNA is current and how considerably is current. 

Tests for new ailments require both equally specificity (pinpointing the proper fingerprint)
and sensitivity (locating the fingerprint in a messy crime scene). The problem with
COVID-19 tests — a single the complete earth is facing  — offers with sensitivity: Reduced stages
of coronavirus are tougher to detect. This is additional popular with early infections. If
an individual has a complete-blown an infection, it is quick to decide a positive examination final result
within hours. 

The validation tests operate in the Michigan Tech lab last week are promising, and they
fulfill state and federal suggestions to aid an Crisis Use Authorization. The lab
also assures affected person privateness and has stringent protocols in spot to hold the lab team
safe and produce correct examination final results. 

“There is a good deal that goes into location up a lab with the biosafety and privateness necessities
to operate scientific tests like this a single for COVID-19,” explained Claire Danielson, health-related
laboratory science scientific practicum coordinator at Michigan Tech and a single of the
scientists who set up the lab. “We could not simply convey in any PCR device and make
it function. The complete staff came together to decide what equipment would function, how to
offer with reagent and content shortages, and to function with the state to make confident
the lab satisfies all health and fitness department and Food and drug administration necessities.”

The other scientists jogging the lab incorporate a health-related health practitioner, a virologist and a
chemical engineer specializing in vaccine growth, as effectively as plant and wildlife
geneticists, microbiologists and biomedical engineers who normally stick to the engineering
side of medication. 

“In periods like this, everyone learns how to retool their knowledge and convey an significant
set of techniques to the desk,” Reed explained. “I’m very pleased of our Michigan Tech staff. We’ve
acquired a good deal of function in advance of us and a good deal of enthusiasm to hold our communities and
health and fitness treatment employees informed and safe even though we reside by the COVID-19 outbreak.”

Michigan Technological University is a community analysis university, home to additional than
7,000 students from 54 countries. Launched in 1885, the University gives additional than
120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and engineering, engineering,
forestry, business and economics, health and fitness professions, humanities, mathematics, and
social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway
and is just a number of miles from Lake Excellent.