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Coronavirus testing support offered by the Francis Crick Institute

23 March 2020
Appeared in BioNews 1040

More than 300 scientists at the Francis Crick Institute in London have volunteered their services to carry out coronavirus tests in their labs.

The Crick is the UK's largest discovery biomedical research lab. In an initiative lead by Nobel laureate Professor Sir Peter Ratcliffe, it has pledged to support the Government's efforts to suppress the spread of COVID-19 by helping to increase the diagnostic testing capacity of the NHS and Public Health England.

'Our scientists are dedicated to improving health outcomes in the UK and across the world,' said the Crick's director, Professor Sir Paul Nurse.

At time of publishing, COVID-19 has killed 281 people in the UK and over 14,000 people worldwide. The World Health Organisation last week recommended testing as an essential element in the fight against the virus.  

In addition, the Crick pointed out that their state-of-the-art London headquarters, which opened in 2016, offer the containment facilities and infrastructure necessary to provide a valuable central testing location, should the government decide to go ahead with this plan.

Researchers at the Crick are also investigating the origins of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19): how it made the jump from animals to humans and the way it interacts with and replicates within cells. Scientists from different biological specialisms, including geneticists, virologists and immunologists are collaborating to find the virus's weaknesses and how to exploit them in developing treatments or vaccines. 

'Scientific research is an essential pillar of the Government's COVID-19 strategy and must continue to be throughout this pandemic,' said Professor Nurse. 'The Crick and other vital research institutions exist to help us understand the fundamental biology underlying our health and disease. And as coronavirus continues to spread, this need has never been greater.'

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