The making of the Randox Health Grand National Trophy, with Silversmith Shannon O’Neill

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The making of the Randox Health Grand National Trophy, with Silversmith Shannon O’Neill

Last night at the Weights Evening Reception in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the highly coveted trophy for the Randox Health Grand National was unveiled to the public for the first time.

We caught up with Silversmith Shannon O’Neill, who designed the trophy, to better understand what goes in to making such an iconic piece of art…

The making of the Randox Health Grand National Trophy

By Silversmith Shannon O’Neill

I think of myself as more design lead rather than process lead, because I don’t like the idea of limiting my designs to my own level of experience. I like to let the ideas flow and a design develop, before I start to think seriously about how the piece can be made, which puts me on the road to constant discovery and learning.

 This is by far the biggest commission I have ever worked on and required me to incorporate the skills of other smiths with a wider skill base, for the various techniques that I wanted to utilize and not least, due to the time scale and gravity of the commission.

 It was thanks to The Goldsmiths’ Company and Padgham and Putland that I’ve been able to work alongside and be mentored by some of the very best and most experienced silversmiths in the country. This piece would not exist without their immense input and for that I’m hugely grateful. 

  • With something of this size, it made sense to have the main body of the trophy spun from a flat disc. Spinning is one of the oldest techniques of forming circular metal components, dating back to the Egyptians. It’s a highly specialized skill, requiring a 5 year apprenticeship and is not for the faint-hearted, especially when you consider that the disc of silver needed to be over half a meter wide, whilst spinning at super high speed. Specific chucks were made and the whole process took more than 6 days to form. 
  • The top sweeping line of the trophy was marked out, before being pierced and a round wire was then rolled, shaped and fitted to the top edge, so it could be soldered into place. The main body was then planished to remove any visible spinning lines. 
  • While the main body was taking shape, work on the base section began. The curve of the lettering was first worked out on the flat and then modelled using CAD CAM, to create three flat sections of 3D printed wax, that were then cast in silver. Once cast, they were formed into the round, cleaned up and soldered together. The top wire was first rolled out from a large round wire and fabricated to fit, then soldered into place and finished on the lathe, while the base wires were rectangular. 
  • In addition to the base section that you see from the outside, a couple of beautifully engineered parts were needed, to enable the top and bottom sections of the trophy to be screwed together. Given the time factor, this was a huge help, enabling us to work on both sections of the trophy simultaneously, whilst also making it easier for the gilding and polishing process, as well as future restorers. 
  • Before the chasing could commence, both the top and bottom sections were pre-polished. This is an important step, which avoids any potential damage, caused by the later polishing, so no hammer marks or subtle lines would be lost. 
  • Next came the transfer of the design onto the form. Since the shape contracts significantly in the middle as well as being concave, it was necessary to make sure that the integrity of the illustration was not lost in the process. Having unsuccessfully tried to use a computer adapted version, I reverted to an old method of cutting the illustration into hundreds of strips and tailoring it to the shape. This was then combined with drawing of a grid onto the form, to keep the lettering in proportion. A white primer provided the ideal surface to sketch onto and the lines were scribed into the metal, in preparation for the chasing. 
  • Chasing is such a wonderful process. Unlike engraving which can look similar to ‘flat-chased’ pieces, the process doesn’t just leave a blank surface on the inside. Personally, I love the way that chasing moves the whole surface of the metal, as it bends and curves in response to your marks and then right at the end, when all the pitch is emptied out, you see the reversed illustration, as the pattern is echoed inside. 
  • The trophy was filled with hot, molton ‘pitch’ (like bitumen), which was then allowed to cool overnight. This provides support for the form, to stop it from denting while creating the low-relief process. The chasing tool is held in one hand and a ‘chasing’ hammer in the other, as multiple hammer blows allow the chasing tool, to glide over the surface of the metal, so creating an impression. 
  • All the lines were chased twice over, before the pitch was melted out in preparation for the ‘repousse’ of the lettering – basically the same process, but tapping on the tool from the inside and supporting it from the outside, to create the embossed surface.
  • At the end of the repousse work, the trophy was again loaded with the molten pitch, in preparation for the final round of ‘chasing’ to create further definition and ‘matting’. The ‘matting’ created the sparkly texture on various details in the design. The whole process is quite physical, when you consider how heavy the piece was, once it was filled with pitch and this entire process took over four weeks. 
  • Meanwhile, the base section was also ‘matted’ to create the texture behind the lettering. It then went to the stone setters, to have the red crystal mounted in the center of the ‘O’, to replicate the drop of blood Randox’s logo. 
  • The final stage in the fabrication followed, as the engineered section, which fits into the base of the trophy, was soldered onto the main body. 
  • Both sections were then given their final polish, with a high-polished finish on the base and the inside of the trophy, with a much softer brushed sheen, to maximize the visibility of the illustration on the outside. It’s so important to get a great polish, because it’s like framing a work of art – it can either make or break a piece of work. 
  • Almost finished and onto the ‘platers’. The inside was given a first layer of hard-gold plating and a second lemon yellow top-coat, to create the perfect shade. The base section was plated with ‘black-gold’, around all the lettering. 
  • Finally the two sections were assembled!

For more information about the Randox Health Grand National 2017 Trophy please contact Nicola McHugh or Amy McIlwaine in the Randox PR team by emailing randoxpr@randox.com or phone 028 9442 2413


#LoveYourHeart this Valentine’s Day!

We are encouraging you to #LoveYourHeart this Valentine’s Day! Read on to find out why your heart health should matter to you this #HeartMonth!

Fact:  Did you know people with diabetes are 2 to 4 times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than people without diabetes?¹

Good diabetes control is imperative!  If you have diabetes take control and monitor your treatment to ensure you are safe from complications such as cardiovascular disease…

Many complications associated with diabetes include kidney disease, eye disease, cardiovascular disease and diabetic ketoacidosis (a life threatening condition that can develop in insulin dependent diabetics).

If you have diabetes, being physically active and controlling your weight and blood pressure will help manage your blood sugar level; and therefore help manage the risk of cardiac diseases.

However a few simple routine tests may also be carried out to ensure normal kidney function.  Normal kidney function in a diabetic patient means that diabetes is being controlled well, however if kidney function begins to deteriorate then you will know that measures need to be taken to control diabetes better.

Speciality tests to assess kidney function which can be requested include:

  • Cystatin C a sensitive marker of kidney function used for detection of early renal dysfunction in diabetic patients. It is important to note that Creatinine is the routine test for renal dysfunction, however it has a blind range which means it is unable to detect elevated Creatinine levels found in stage 2 and halfway through stage 3 renal dysfunction; as a result 50% of kidney function can be lost before elevated Creatinine levels can be seen. The Cystatin C test is a much more sensitive marker and can detect early stages of renal dysfunction, allowing treatment to begin before it is too late.
  • Beta-2 Microglobulin – this test is used when kidney damage has occurred to distinguish between the two most commonly affected sites, glomeruli and renal tubules.

Fact:  Cardiovascular Diseases are the number one cause of death globally, with more people dying annually from CVDs than any other cause.²   In the UK alone, 41,000 people under the age of 75 die from CVD each year.³

If you are worried about your cardiovascular health, or whether you are at risk of a heart attack or stroke, ask your doctor for a cardiovascular risk assessment. Routinely they will run lipid tests such as Total Cholesterol, HDL Cholesterol, LDL Cholesterol and Triglycerides to assess your overall cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and allow corrective action to be taken.

Look out for hidden risk factors!

Specific tests you may also want to discuss with your doctor include:

  • sLDL Cholesterol and Lipoprotein(a) to assess for genetically inherited risks of cardiovascular disease – even if your cholesterol levels are safe you may still be at risk of cardiovascular disease as a result of familial traits
  • Adiponectin to assess the level of abdominal visceral fat, of which high levels can increase your cardiovascular risk. Please note that abdominal visceral fat levels or body fat cannot be determined by BMI score, which assesses whether weight is within a healthy range. As such, the Adiponectin test provides a clearer indication of health and is a good predictor of cardiovascular risk
  • TxBCardio to assess response to Aspirin therapy for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. Up to 30% of patients receiving Aspirin therapy suffer unknowingly from Aspirin resistance. This test enables treatment to be modified and corrected

Asking your doctor for these tests creates an opportunity for corrective action to be taken and can have significant benefits for your health.

Fact:  Approximately one woman dies from heart disease every minute, of which 64% had no previous symptoms.4

Sixty-four percent of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease had no previous symptoms. Because these symptoms vary greatly between men and women, they’re often misunderstood. Media has conditioned us to believe that the telltale sign of a heart attack is extreme chest pain. But in reality, women are somewhat more likely to experience shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain. Other symptoms women should look out for are dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting, pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen and extreme fatigue.

Being aware of these signs can aid early detection, and greatly increase chances of surviving a heart attack!

 

So don’t forget to #LoveYourHeart this Valentine’s Day!  Randox can provide a vast range of specialised blood tests to allow the most accurate diagnosis of diabetes, cardiac risk and associated complications. From all of us here at Randox we wish you an enjoyable Valentine’s Day!

For health professionals:

Randox Laboratories manufacture a wide range of routine and niche biochemistry reagents suitable for both research and clinical use.  These include a wide variety of automated routine and niche diabetes and cardiac tests and our new HDL3-C assay.  Please contact reagents@randox.com for further information.

 

References

  1. World Heart Federation, Diabetes, https://goo.gl/e8WG86 Accessed: February 2017
  2. WHO, Cardiovascular diseases (CVD), https://goo.gl/fGO0bj, (2016), Accessed: February 2017
  3. British Heart Foundation, CVD Statistics – BHF UK Factsheet, https://goo.gl/6DEOdw (2017), Accessed: February 2017
  4. Reference: American Heart Association, Common Myths About Heart Disease, (2017),  https://goo.gl/NEz5gV, Accessed: February 2017

 

Further reading:


Inflammatory Biomarker Series: Rheumatoid Factor

What are inflammatory biomarkers?

The purpose of measuring an inflammatory biomarker is to detect inflammation, which can assist clinicians in the identification of a particular disease or provide a marker of treatment response. Inflammation, either chronic or acute, is the body’s immune response to protect against harmful stimuli such as damaged cells, irritants or pathogens.1 When inflammation occurs in the body, extra protein is released from the site of inflammation and circulates in the bloodstream.2 It is these proteins, or antibodies, which clinicians are testing for in the blood as they can indicate if inflammation is present.

Like many inflammatory biomarkers, such as rheumatoid factor (RF), C-reactive protein (CRP) or erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), further tests will be required as testing for these tests alone does not provide a clearly defined diagnosis. However inflammatory biomarker tests can provide clinicians with a good indication of what may be wrong with a patient, which is why they are commonly tested for in a clinical setting.


What is Rheumatoid Factor?


Rheumatoid factor (RF) is an autoantibody which can target and damage healthy body tissue and in turn cause inflammatory symptoms.3 It is uncommon for this antibody to be present in healthy individuals, which is why it is a beneficial test to aid the diagnostic process. In particular, rheumatoid factor can be used as an inflammatory biomarker to assist in the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However the rheumatoid factor antibody can also be present in healthy individuals or patients with systemic lupus erythematosus, liver cirrhosis, Sjögren’s Syndrome, Hepatitis and other conditions.4 If a test detects rheumatoid factor levels above 14 IU/ml, this is considered abnormally high.3

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease which attacks the lining tissue of joints, resulting in chronic inflammation. This disease commonly affects the hands, feet and wrists, with symptoms causing pain, fatigue and loss of bodily function and over time may even lead to multiple organ damage.5 Although diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis requires a physical examination, testing for rheumatoid factor can be beneficial to assist in the diagnosis of this disease. Other blood tests that can be used to detect biomarkers associated with rheumatoid arthritis include C-reactive protein (CRP), erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), IgA, IgG, IgM and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP).

For health professionals

Randox Laboratories offer a leading portfolio of diagnostic reagents which includes a test for rheumatoid factor, with applications available for a range of biochemistry analysers. With a measuring range of 6.72 – 104 lU/ml, this assay can comfortably detect levels outside the normal range. Randox offer a complete diagnostic package for the screening of rheumatoid factor with a range of kit sizes, controls and calibrators available. Other inflammatory biomarker tests available from Randox include CRP, High Sensitivity CRP, Full Range CRP, IgA, IgG and IgM.

References:

1. Nordqvist, C. Inflammation: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment. Medical News Today, https://goo.gl/rT4WS9 (accessed 16 January 2017)
2. Harding, M., Blood Tests to Detect Inflammation, Patient, 2015, https://goo.gl/F4OGrz, (accessed 16 January 2017)
3. Shiel, W. C., Rheumatoid Factor (RF), MedicineNet, 2016, https://goo.gl/XPA69u 2016 (accessed 16 January 2017)
4. Rheumatoid Arthritis Organisation, Rheumatoid Factor Test, Rheumatoid Arthritis Organisation, 2016, https://goo.gl/JujE5a
5. Gibofsky, A. Overview of Epidemiology, Pathophysiology and Diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis. The American Journal of Managed Care. Vol.18, No.13. p.295-302, 2012

Inflammatory Biomarker: Rheumatoid Factor


The Benefits of Peer Group Data to your Troubleshooting Process

Drive for more accurate results in your laboratory 

We’ve all been there, you’re in the middle of a run of patient tests when you are alerted to an out of control event, such as your analyser is reporting QC results 25% low to target. What do you do? In reality, we all know that the problem is unlikely to correct itself, especially if it’s a calibration or analyser issue. Human error is a potential factor, however all possible causes must be eliminated to proceed with patient testing.

What’s the solution?

ISO 15189:2012 recommends that a laboratory should “have a procedure to prevent patient results in the event of a quality control failure”.  Implementing an interlaboratory data management program which features peer group reporting can help you meet this requirement and monitor the results you are producing. Such programs can help detect errors in the analytical phase of patient testing, through the automatic application of pre-programmed QC rules, thus alerting staff to failed results.

Why must Peer Groups be a feature?

A peer group is defined as a “Community in which most or all members have roughly the same characteristics…” (Businessdictionary.com, accessed 2017). In this instance the characteristics could refer to the; instrument, test method or QC material in use. As such peer group programmes could help you detect errors in your laboratory by comparing your results to those who are employing a similar method, instrument and QC to what you are using, i.e. comparing apples for apples. Therefore it is essential that the peer group data you require is available in real-time, to ensure you are accessing the most up-to-date data when reviewing your patient test results.

Scenario

Take the example from the introduction. You’re in the middle of a run of patient tests when you are alerted to an out of control event, such as your analyser is reporting QC results 25% low to target. As part of your troubleshooting procedures, you are able to compare your results to the results of your peer group and note that this is an isolated incident. Consequently, you have eliminated a widespread problem with the QC, reagent or calibrator and narrowed down the root cause to one of the components in your test system. Thus saving you time in the troubleshooting process.

Benefits of Peer Group Comparison                              

There are a number of benefits to employing peer group comparison in your laboratory. Peer group data comparisons facilitate faster troubleshooting, helping you identify whether the problem you are seeing is unique to your laboratory, or if other laboratories are reporting the same issue. If other laboratories are reporting the same issue it is possible to conclude that there is a widespread problem with either the QC, reagent or calibrator. On the other hand, if it is not occurring within your peer group you will have to investigate further, reviewing your QC processes. As a result, you could resolve issues much quicker by eliminating either a supplier or laboratory issue. Furthermore, you can also eliminate the need for unnecessary repeat tests or instrument maintenance, saving both valuable time and money.

 Other characteristics you should look out for

Whilst peer group comparison is a useful feature there are a number of other features you should consider when selecting the right interlaboratory data management program for you. These include;

  • Automatic calculation of Measurement Uncertainty, Total Error and Sigma Metrics
  • Multiple laboratory management on a single platform
  • Accessing data anytime, anywhere via PC, laptop or tablet via a web-based platform
  • All data charts you may require to assess whether any bias or imprecision issues are present
  • Ability to combine data for multiple QC lots, analytes and instruments on a single Levey-Jennings or Histogram chart
  • Automated data import via a direct connection to your LIMS
What can Randox offer?

At Randox we are passionate about quality control and believe in producing high-quality material that can streamline procedures for laboratories of all sizes and budgets through our Randox Quality Control brand. Acusera 24.7 Live Online is just one aspect of our extensive laboratory portfolio that has been designed to help you produce results you can trust. With Acusera 24.7 Live Online you can drive for more accurate results by monitoring and interpreting QC data online, anytime, anywhere. With access to an impressive range of features, including the automatic calculation of Measurement Uncertainty, Total Error and Sigma Metrics, Acusera 24.7 will ensure analytical quality.


Acusera 24•7 Live Online – Speeding up the Review of QC Data

Reviewing QC data can be an extremely time consuming and costly process. With manual statistical calculation laboratories risk missing or ignoring significant trends in QC data which could potentially put patients at risk. So how does a laboratory combat this? Simple; participate in an interlaboratory data management program that provides a quick, effective, accurate and detailed analysis of QC results. The answer to this program is Acusera 24•7 Live Online.

Acusera 24•7 Live Online

With the launch of Acusera 24•7 Live Online version 2.0, QC data review is now faster and simpler than ever before. Our program aims to save the laboratory precious time and money by instantly flagging any QC failures, ultimately ensuring accurate test system performance.

Designed to complement and be used primarily with our Acusera range of true third party controls, Acusera 24•7 Live Online has two primary functions; 1) management and interpretation of IQC data and 2) rapid and effective troubleshooting of QC failures via access to instantly updated worldwide peer group statistics.

These two functions have one common goal – being an effective tool for evaluating laboratory performance. With the launch of version 2.0 the software boasts even more functionality than before, ensuring any laboratory employing Randox Quality Control coupled with Acusera 24•7 Live Online will see benefits from the get-go.

Why should you use Acusera 24•7 Live Online?

Using Acusera 24•7 to help speed up the review process in your laboratory can reap dividends. The program has been designed for this specific reason and the features are geared towards helping the laboratory review, interpret, and analyse QC data quickly, effectively and accurately. One such example of this is the unique dashboard function which instantly flags any alerted or rejected results from the past 7 days, significantly reducing the time spent analysing reports and charts whilst simultaneously allowing any corrective action to be taken immediately with minimum disruption to the lab’s output.

Previously, peer group statistics would have been updated every 24 hours with Acusera 24•7 Live Online version 1.6, however, with the new release, peer data is about to get a unique upgrade. Gone are the days when you will have to wait 24 hours to get updated stats – Acusera 24•7 Live Online now has the ability to generate peer data live in real-time, thereby enhancing the laboratory’s troubleshooting capabilities and allowing labs to compare their data with others around the globe.  What’s more there is no deadline for submission of results meaning labs can get a true reflection of performance at any time. Ultimately, laboratories will be able to easily identify if an issue is unique to them or a widespread issue amongst their peers. Such information will allow them establish a root cause quicker and spend less time troubleshooting.

The capacity to generate interactive charts and comprehensive reports automatically is a feature included in Acusera 24•7 that will aid quick review of QC data. Reports can be generated for a user-defined date range and provide a wealth of information. Reports include statistical analysis, statistical metrics, measurement uncertainty, exception and audit trail reports. Reports coupled with Levey-Jennings, Histogram and Performance Summary charts enable rapid and stress-free performance monitoring. The ability to add multiple instruments, QC lots and analytes to a single chart allows for comparative performance assessment and immediate identification of any trends.

We must not forget that Acusera 24•7 Live Online has already had a modernisation in the past few months. In November 2016 we announced the automatic calculation of Measurement of Uncertainty, Total Error and Sigma Metrics. These new features are also included in the version 2.0 launch of our Live Online program.

Our software is highly flexible with custom configurations of performance limits, multi-rules and target values designed to meet and exceed every laboratory’s needs.

With the ability to identify trends, system errors, minimise false rejections and bridge the gap between IQC and EQA, there really is no reason to look elsewhere for your analytical performance of QC.

For more information on Acusera 24•7 Live Online or our Acusera third party controls, click here.


Talented Teoranta: David McIntyre’s journey from the 2015 Open Morning to joining Team Randox

It’s not every day you get to have a cup of tea and a chat with someone who’s been involved in revolutionising the face of global health – that’s why we think our Open Mornings are so important.

Our next one is on Friday 23rd December at Randox Teoranta in Dungloe, Donegal – if you’re a scientist, engineer, software developer or software tester we’d love you to join us.

During our 2015 Open Morning, final year Engineering student David McIntyre came along to find out more, and was so inspired he left his CV. Now he’s part of our team. Read more to find out why.

 

Hi David, how did you start your career with Randox Teoranta?

I first came here on the Christmas Eve Open Morning 2015.  I was home for the holidays, and as I was in my final year I was obviously thinking about where I would go after graduation. I already knew a few people who worked here and I’d heard it was doing some impressive things, but I wanted to see for myself what a €25m R&D facility looked like.

What was your first impression of the facilities here?

My first impression didn’t disappoint. It is a top class facility and is packed with the latest technology. You don’t see many companies as high end as this in Donegal- it’s really one of a kind. When I arrived I met Christina the Engineering Manager who gave me a tour of each of the departments. I was really pleased that I got to view the Randox Biochip as I’d heard a lot about it in the news, and I also get to walk about the manufacturing and engineering departments. I got to talk to some of the engineers and ask them questions, and see some of their design work which I was extremely impressed with. It gave me a good feel for the facility, because I could visualise myself here –where I’d be, and who I’d be working with. Everyone was very friendly which put me at ease straight away so I decided to submit my CV at the end of the tour.

How did you find the recruitment process?

As part of the recruitment process I was invited back for six weeks to undergo an assessment period which was a brilliant experience. It actually happened before University started back so it suited me perfectly.

At the end of the six weeks I was offered a full time positon which I was thrilled about. I was delighted that I was able to get a job in my own county and not have to commute long distances to work each day. Currently I live in to Kincasslagh, Belcruit, Co Donegal which is only 15 minutes from Dungloe.

What was the most challenging thing you faced during your first few months?

The most challenging thing that I faced in the beginning was getting used to how everything works. This was my first job related to my degree so I didn’t really know what to expect. It took a while to get used to procedures and dealing with documentation – with a global company there is a lot you have to get right!

I’m well settled in now and really enjoying my role here in Randox, especially working with our 3D printer. To be given the opportunity to work with a 3D printer is great, that’s really been the highlight of my year so far as it’s such a unique piece of equipment. I have had the opportunity to create gears and even bearings which has been really interesting. It’s such an impressive machine. We can design a part and print it the very same day. If you were going to do this via conventional methods you would need to create the drawings and send the drawings to a fabricator and then you would be waiting a week or so to get it back.

What advice do you have for anyone who is interested in engineering?

My advice to anyone who is interested in engineering or science is to definitely come along to the Open Morning 2016 and see what Randox Teoranta has to offer. It’s a fantastic facility in Donegal, in a beautiful location and you will get a good insight as to what goes on in a design and manufacturing facility.

This is something that you don’t really get the opportunity to do in college and it’s a chance to get some behind the scenes knowledge of what it’s really like to work as an engineer. Everyone who works here is very friendly so you can ask as many questions as you like. It worked out great for me – it could do for you too!

For more information about our Randox Teoranta Open Morning on Friday 23rd December please contact randoxpr@randox.com

Make sure to share on your social media platforms using the hashtag #TalentedTeoranta!


Senior R&D Scientist at Randox Teoranta in Dungloe, Dr Sarah Gildea, on her PhD in Equine Influenza Virus and what she loves the most about being home

Since the opening of Randox Teoranta back in 2010, our team of scientists, engineers and software developers has grown significantly.

Career opportunities at our state-of-the-art research, development and manufacturing centre is utilising the talented skill set of Donegal people and newcomers alike, while actively attracing the Donegal Diaspora back to the area.

Donegal graduates who are working away from home have the opportunity to return, or for those from further afield, they have the opportunity to experience the distinct Donegal lifestyle for the first time.

Senior R&D Scientist at Randox Teoranta in Dungloe, Dr Sarah Gildea, returned to her native Donegal to work in Randox Teoranta, after having worked in the Irish Equine Centre in Kildare.  She chatted to us about her PhD in Equine Influenza Virus and what she loves the most about being home.

Hi Sarah, can you tell us a little bit about your background and where you started your career? 

I’m originally from Ardara which is in the south west of Donegal and about half an hour away from Dungloe where Randox Teoranta is based. Once I graduated from the University of Limerick with a Bsc in Equine Science, I got a job in the Virology Unit of The Irish Equine Centre, which is in Kildare. I stayed there for 13 years and during that time I got the opportunity to complete my PhD in Equine Influenza Virus.

Why did you choose Randox Teoranta?

After travelling to Kildare each week I finally got the opportunity to return home to work last June when I was lucky enough to join the Randox Teoranta team here in Dungloe. Travelling to Kildare was beginning to take its toll on me – I wasn’t home until late Friday evening and then I was away again on Sunday so it was always a short trip home. Don’t get me wrong now, it’s great to travel and see different parts of the world that you wouldn’t get the opportunity to see otherwise, but being a bit of a home bird I had wanted to come home for a while. I never thought that I would get the opportunity to work at home in the field of science, especially veterinary science. So as you can imagine I was delighted when I heard that Randox was opening a new R&D site in Dungloe and was expanding their expertise to include a veterinary division. I thought it was such a rare opportunity to be given the chance to work in my area of expertise so close to where I grew up.

What’s the difference in terms of the facilities between Randox Teoranta and the Irish Equine Centre?

Coming from the Irish Equine Centre where I was involved in diagnosing diseases for race horse trainers and veteran surgeons from all around Ireland to Randox Teoranta where I am developing tests to supply the likes of Irish Equine Centre and like-minded companies had its advantages. I already had a broad knowledge of vet diagnostics and diseases but now instead of diagnosing diseases I am creating the innovative diagnostic tests that the Irish Equine Centre would use. It meant that I already had a good knowledge on the flaws of some of the current tests and my experience gave me a good insight for what’s important when developing new innovative diagnostic tests.

How important is it that companies like Randox invest in places like Dungloe?

By investing in science and engineering at Randox Teoranta I have not only been able to bring back my knowledge and experience to my home county, but also teach and educate those in the community who are interested in pursuing a career in science but don’t necessarily want to travel far from home.  Randox Teoranta not only allows me to give back to the community but also make huge savings on  travel expenses as I no longer have to commute long distances to work each day. But really the most important thing for me is being close to all my family and friends.

For more information about our Randox Teoranta Open Morning on Friday 23rd December please contact randoxpr@randox.com

Make sure to share on your social media platforms using the hashtag #TalentedTeoranta!


Inflammatory Biomarker Series: CRP

An inflammatory biomarker detects inflammation in the body. Inflammation is not just the immediate, short-term response of the body to an injury or infection. Inflammation within the body can be a long-term, chronic condition resulting in a number of health implications. In diagnostics, measurement of an inflammatory biomarker can not only detect acute inflammation but provide a marker of treatment response.

C-reactive protein (CRP) is an acute phase protein produced by the liver in response to inflammation, infection and tissue injury. CRP is a particularly beneficial inflammatory biomarker as it is detected much faster than other markers in the blood. Levels of CRP increase when inflammation occurs and therefore it can be a significant biomarker in a range of diseases, including the following.

Cardiovascular Disease

An increasing amount of research exists to suggest CRP is not only a useful, non-specific inflammatory biomarker, but it may have a direct influence on coronary heart disease and cardiac events1. Inflammation can occur when LDL cholesterol builds up in the artery walls causing atherosclerosis. Modifiable risk factors of atherosclerosis include smoking, diabetes, poor diet, high blood pressure and physical inactivity, all factors which subsequently increase the risk of heart attacks, ischemic stroke, peripheral artery disease and even vascular dementia2,3.

Studies have also shown that persistent low levels of CRP can contribute to a person developing CVD. Therefore using high sensitivity CRP as an inflammatory biomarker can detect low levels, helping to predict the likelihood of a patient developing CVD in the future.

Diabetes

Research suggests that inflammation in the body can influence the development of type 2 diabetes. With the ability to be managed through diet and exercise, type 2 diabetes is commonly associated with obesity. Research has shown that excess body fat can cause continuous chronic low-grade inflammation as a result of inflammatory cytokines and increased plasma levels of CRP. As a result, this chronic inflammation has the ability to cause insulin resistance leading to the development of type 2 diabetes4.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

A three year study which analysed the bone and joint health of 10,000 patient samples in India has found that inflammatory biomarkers, in particular CRP and ESR (Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate) were raised in most of the samples compared to any other markers5. Although CRP is a non-specific inflammatory biomarker, it can be used alongside other tests, such as Rheumatoid Factor, to diagnose inflammatory joint diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis. Not only will CRP levels be higher due to chronic inflammation, but CRP levels can be monitored to assess levels of inflammation over time, allowing clinicians offer effective treatment.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

COPD is a condition associated with inflammation of the lungs and airways. Studies have shown that measuring CRP levels is beneficial to detect exacerbations, when symptoms of COPD get suddenly worse and can last for several days. This is because CRP levels spike when exacerbations happen, causing lung function to deteriorate6.

Neonatal Bacterial Infections

CRP is one of the preferred and frequently used tests in neonatal units when diagnosing suspected bacterial infections, such as neonatal sepsis, in newborns who show signs on infection. Due to delayed synthesis during the inflammatory response, the sensitivity of CRP is lowest during early stages of infection. It is therefore critical that extremely low levels of CRP can be detected during diagnosis to distinguish whether symptoms are related to an infectious or non-infectious condition. This early detection then allows for rapid and appropriate neonatal treatment7.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Research suggests that using CRP as an inflammatory biomarker can help distinguish between Inflammatory Bowel Disorder (IBD) and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)8. Although IBD and IBS have some similarities in symptoms, IBD causes chronic inflammation, whereas IBS is a non-inflammatory condition. Therefore using CRP as a biomarker can allow clinicians to deliver a confident and accurate diagnosis.

For health professionals

Randox Laboratories manufacture a wide range routine and niche biochemistry reagents for use in both a research and clinical setting. With a wide measuring range, the Randox CRP assay will perform excellently to detect levels outside of the healthy range. Also available is a Full Range CRP assay particularly beneficial for use in a neonatal setting, and a High Sensitivity CRP assay, depending on your diagnostic requirements. For more information, please contact: reagents@randox.com

References:

  1. Shrivastava, A. K., Singh, H.V., Raizada, A. and Singh, S.K. C-reactive protein, inflammation and coronary heart disease. The Egyptian Heart Journal. 67, 89-97. (2015)
  2. American Heart Association. Inflammation and Heart Disease. Available from: https://goo.gl/d82Ynr  (2016)
  3. Harvard Health Publications. What you eat can fuel or cool inflammation. Harvard Health Publications. Available from: https://goo.gl/e8m3El (2007)
  4. Zeyda, M. and Stulnig, T. M.  Obesity, Inflammation, and Insulin Resistance – A Mini-Review. Gerontology 2009; 55:379-386 (2009)
  5. Mukherjeel, R.  Bone and joint health are crucial aspect, usually ignored by Indians. The Times of India. Available from: https://goo.gl/qluzhI (2016)
  6. Anderson, G. P.  COPD, asthma and C-reactive protein. European Respiratory Journal 2006; 27: 874-876. (2006)
  7. Hofer, N., Zacharias, E., Müller, W. and Resch, B.  An update on the Use of C-Reactive Protein in Early-Onset Neonatal Sepsis: Current Insights and New Tasks. Neonatology 2012; 102: 25-36 (2012)
  8. Silva, P.  Two Specific Proteins Allow the Exclusion of IBD in Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. IBD News Today. Available from: https://goo.gl/pxMP53 (2015)
Inflammatory Biomarker: CRP


Celebrate Christmas with Randox Quality Control

T’was the week before Christmas and all through the lab not a thing could be heard not even a sound. The analyser lay silent asleep in the corner, the lab staff at home dreaming of a few days’ rest, only a few more days to go before the big day!

The big man in red, what will he bring those who already have everything? Peace, happiness and health for their loved ones throughout the festive break, that would be the wish for everyone to make. And what better way to ensure they stay healthy, well it all begins in the laboratory…

An important consideration to remember when choosing your lab Quality Control (QC) is that approximately 70% of clinical decisions are based on laboratory test results. It is therefore essential that the results gained from laboratory testing are accurate and reliable in order to provide the appropriate treatment and avoid or prevent potential misdiagnosis.

Patient results are of the utmost importance for a laboratory and therefore running the best Quality Control material should be at the top of their agenda. QC material should have a number of features that allow a lab to judge the overall quality of their output. These features include the controls ability to be commutable (which means how well it reacts as a replicate of a patient sample), is it a true third party control that has been manufactured to provide an independent and unbiased assessment of performance, does your control come with clinically relevant levels and does it have a long shelf life as well as a good open vial or reconstituted stability? These are the questions lab staff will be asking themselves when deciding on what QC is the right QC.

So stay off Santa’s naughty list by providing accurate and reliable patient test results, do this by employing Randox QC in your laboratory. Our controls have been designed to deliver significant cost savings without sacrificing on quality. With consolidated controls (combining up to 100 analytes in a single vial) your lab can reduce QC costs and preparation time, the inclusion of analytes present at clinical decision levels will eradicate the need for additional controls and because of our long shelf life (2 years for liquid controls, 4 years for lyophilised) and excellent stability claims your laboratory can be sure that expensive lot changes will be a thing of the past! Our controls can be described as true third party and this, combined with the commutable nature of the controls, leads to us being able to claim that we have the best Quality Control material around.

So this Christmas when deciding what QC to choose – make sure you look no further than Randox Quality Control. Our QC family is known as Acusera and our product offering includes QC and calibrator material, Interlaboratory Data Management Program (Acusera 24.7), the world’s largest international EQA/PT scheme better known as RIQAS and the newest addition to the family, Linearity or Calibration Verification material.

We have packages for every lab regardless of size and budget and we guarantee you will become ho-ho-hooked on Randox QC.

Wishing you all season’s greetings and a prosperous New Year from everyone at Randox QC.


QC Shelf Life – Why is it Important?

An important consideration when choosing your Quality Control material that is often overlooked is the shelf life of the control. With every new lot of control extensive validation studies must be performed. Regulatory bodies such as CLIA require new lot numbers to be evaluated before routine use in the laboratory. For example, CLIA has instructed that any new control lot to be run alongside patient samples will need to be verified alongside the old lot of control. The process is designed to give laboratory professionals confidence in the new material and ensure it is fit for purpose before implementing it in the lab.

As part of the validation process laboratories are required to assay both the old and new lots side by side. The current lot is then used to help verify if the new lot will be acceptable to run within the lab. Such validation studies can be very costly for a lab as well as being extremely time consuming – with some studies taking up to a month to complete! By choosing a control with a longer shelf life laboratories can aim to use the same lot of control for a longer time period. Ultimately this means fewer lot changes and minimal inconvenience for the lab. With a shelf life of 2 years for liquid controls and up to 4 years for lyophilised, coupled with unrivalled stability claims, employing Randox Quality Control in your laboratory will ensure that expensive lot changes will be a thing of the past. Our comprehensive control offering is guaranteed to increase efficiency and reduce costs in any laboratory without compromising on quality.

Contact us today to find out more information on our Acusera range of Quality Controls.


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