Randox announces its £30m investment in specialised COVID-19 testing lab
Randox invests £30m and 200 new jobs in specialised COVID-19 testing lab
As part of efforts to enhance its national testing capacity, global diagnostics company Randox has announced an investment of £30m in a new specialised COVID-19 testing hub.
The healthcare firm, which is currently conducting COVID-19 tests as part of the national testing programme, announced its investment in the new facilities based at the Randox Science Park in Antrim, Northern Ireland, during a visit yesterday by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, The Rt Hon Brandon Lewis CBE.
The specialised laboratory, the development of which was fast-tracked over the space of four weeks, is the first step in a wider diagnostics investment programme from Randox.
Dr Peter FitzGerald, Managing Director of Randox Laboratories, commented;
“The national testing programme, as a collaborative effort by government and various partners within industry, has increased testing capacity at an unparalleled speed – by installing a network of drive-through testing centres, introducing home testing kits, and now, opening this specialised lab at the Randox Science Park in Northern Ireland.
“An incredible amount of work has gone into making this cutting-edge testing facility a reality in a relatively short space of time, as we know that effective testing is the most effective way to both save lives and promote a timely return to a more normal society.”
The opening of the new laboratory at the Randox Science Park follows the company’s announcement that it is recruiting new staff across Science, Engineering and Manufacturing in support of its role within the national testing programme.
The 200 new positions will be involved in the testing of potential COVID-19 samples, as well as the construction of 200 new state-of-the-art diagnostic analysers which will significantly increase Randox’s capacity for COVID-19 testing.
Dr FitzGerald continued;
“Now that we have in place the infrastructure and laboratory space required to enhance our testing capacity, we look forward to implementing the next step in our COVID-19 investment programme.
“By accelerating the build schedule for new specialised equipment, and hiring 200 associated workers across Science, Engineering and Manufacturing we will further enhance the government’s national testing scheme, as well as facilitate testing more broadly across the general populace.”
Secretary of State Brandon Lewis MP welcomed the new investment saying:
“I was impressed during my visit with the dedication of staff and the top-class facilities at Randox. This investment will help support the UK’s nationwide effort to fight the coronavirus and ultimately save lives.”
Dr FitzGerald concluded;
“I would also like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to all my colleagues at Randox who continue to work assiduously to process such a high volume of tests in a timely manner.
“I know I speak on behalf of everyone when I say we appreciate all your hard work and the vital role you play in the practical application of COVID-19 testing.”
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A ground-breaking new test which improves the accuracy of stroke diagnosis has been developed by Randox scientists.
The rapid and highly sensitive blood test, which is due to be unveiled at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, can uniquely differentiate between ischaemic strokes (a blood clot) and haemorrhagic strokes (a bleed) and subsequently enable clinicians to rapidly administer the most effective treatment, which is a vital factor in limiting permanent damage.
What’s even more remarkable is that the pioneering diagnostic, appearing as part of the festival’s Future Lab exhibition, takes less than 30 minutes to complete – making sure patients get the right diagnosis as fast as possible.
Dr Peter FitzGerald, Managing Director of Randox Laboratories, whose team developed the test, commented;
“There is great tragedy in the fact that the majority of stroke damage can be minimised if intervention is delivered on time, yet too often the window closes before a diagnosis is made. For doctors, nothing is more frustrating.
“Excellent work has been undertaken to assist the public in recognising the signs of a stroke so people can get to hospital as quickly as possible. Our stroke test is the vital next step – assisting clinicians in making a rapid diagnosis and differentiation between haemorrhagic and ischaemic stroke, so their patients get the right treatment at the right time.”
Traditionally the first step in a stroke diagnosis is a CT scan, which, despite its ability to successfully diagnose haemorrhagic stroke, is significantly less capable of identifying ischaemic stroke.
Yet ischaemic stroke is the most common type of stroke and affects almost nine in ten patients. Its diagnosis and differentiation from haemorrhagic stroke is vital in enabling thrombolytic treatment to break down blood clots, which, given its nature, could be fatal if administered to a patient suffering from a haemorrhagic stroke. Worryingly though, in some areas of the UK, as little as 15% of eligible stroke patients receive this therapy in time.1
This is caused by a number of factors, including difficulty in determining stroke onset time, exceeding the appropriate time window for thrombolysis administration (4.5 hours from stroke onset), and importantly, not being able to differentiate ischaemic stroke from a number of other ‘stroke mimics’ including severe migraine, brain tumours, drug overdose and seizures.
The Randox Stroke Biochip successfully identifies ischaemic stroke in a rapid test which measures eight markers from a single blood sample simultaneously, in just 30 minutes.
John Lamont, R&D Director for Randox Laboratories, explained;
“While patients undergo a CT scan to confirm either the presence or lack of a haemorrhagic stroke, a blood test on the Randox Biochip can be run on our innovative point-of-care analyser, the MultiSTAT, to identify the same for an ischaemic stroke.
“For the almost 90% of stroke patients who are ruled out for haemorrhagic stroke2, the Randox Biochip will then accelerate decision making for clinicians with regards to thrombolytic therapy.
“Any treatment is most effective if started as soon as possible after the stroke occurs, and so every minute that passes without a diagnosis is likely to leave a permanent mark on a stroke patient’s future health and lifestyle. The vitally important diagnostic information from the Randox Stroke Biochip facilitates accurate stroke classification, directs the appropriate patient care pathway, and enables rapid thrombolytic therapy, ensuring a better patient outcome for ischaemic stroke sufferers, for whom time is of the essence.”
Whilst the Randox Stroke Biochip is currently being used as complementary testing in parallel with CT scanning, Mr Lamont is confident of a more prominent role for the test in the future patient pathway;
“The Biochip has the potential to really revolutionise the stroke diagnosis pathway as we currently know it. The accessibility of this type of blood testing could potentially extend its use beyond the A&E department, to ambulances and even the home, in the form of a hand-held testing device.”
For further information about our pioneering new stroke test, or about the Goodwood Festival of Speed Future Lab, please contact Amy McIlwaine in the Randox PR team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
1 Royal College of Physicians Sentinel Stroke National Audit Programme (SSNAP). Clinical audit Jan – Mar 2016 report prepared by Royal College of Physicians, Clinical Effectiveness and Evaluation Unit on behalf of the Intercollegiate Stroke Working Party.
2 Intercollegiate Stroke Working Party. National clinical guideline for stroke, 5th edition. London: Royal College of Physicians 2016.