May 25, 2020

New coronavirus test service by the Science Park’s Microbe&Lab

Microbe&Lab, a lab based at the Amsterdam Science Park, now offers reliable coronavirus tests – both for current infections and for antibodies against COVID-19. A travel clinic is also opening this week, for those travelling to countries that require a recent COVID-19 PCR test.

A race against time

Microbe&Lab, based at the Amsterdam Science Park, has developed and validated coronavirus test kits that can be ordered online. There are two tests: a PCR test for checking for current infection and an ELISA test that looks for antibodies signifying the test person has been infected in the past. The kits are analysed in the company’s own lab – which is ISO-certified and validated by the Netherlands’ National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) – in an anonymised process.

Developing the kits in such a short period was a race against time. “The entire team has worked long days and weeks to complete our online platform and test kits,” says Patrick de Boer, advisor at Microbe&Lab and one of the initiators of the company’s Coronalab project. “The advantage was that our company already had an at-home testing platform and existing CE-IVD packages. The enthusiasm of the whole team to make this happen was also a crucial part of the ‘magic’.”

Patrick de Boer, Advisor at Microbe&Lab “As a Science Park it has so many SMEs to collaborate with and learn from ”

Life at the Science Park

The lab’s location at the Science Park, where Microbe&Lab are based in the Matrix VII building, also helped. De Boer is enthusiastic about the Science Park’s facilities, service and the possibilities for cooperation with other companies it offers, saying, “as a Science Park it has so many SMEs to collaborate with and learn from.” Particularly for ambitious projects such as the Coronalab, neighbourly assistance can come in handy. “We are there with four different companies,” De Boer says, “sharing space to work and also lab space, and that works out very well. Our next-door neighbour Neogene have been an excellent help for sharing equipment. They even offered us lab space for Coronalab, as we needed storage space with refrigerators for our large collection of ELISA kits.”

Meanwhile, Amsterdam Science Park landlords Matrix Innovation Center is offering the Microbe Lab Corona tests to its fellow renters at a reduced price – over a hundred individuals have already taken advantage of this special offer.

At home and abroad

The Coronalab’s ‘Coronatest-GEHAD’ kit is one of the first reliable antibody tests to be widely available in the Netherlands. It is currently not 100% certain that people who have had SARS-CoV-2 are immune against future infections, and Microbe&Lab therefore advises everyone, antibodies or not, to continue following the RIVM’s most up-to-date regulations.

The lab’s ‘Coronatest-NU’ kit, a PCR swab test that detects the virus if it is active, is currently only sold to companies and health professionals, but a general release will follow in the coming weeks. The Coronalab also offers a travel clinic. “Some countries such as Austria require a COVID-19 PCR test before entering the country,” says De Boer. “We can test people in the morning, and the results and the medical certificate will be available on the same day.” And once the PCR test is available for everyone, it can be ordered online, in line with one of the goals of Coronalab: “We believe that self-testing is the way forward.”

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Leo Le Duc

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