Eldad Hod, Kevin Roth, Krzysztof Kiryluk, Wendy Chung: Building Biorepositories from Scratch in the Midst of a Crisis (covid-19 symposium)
Summary by: Arooba Ahmed (CC '23)
Dr. Hod is trying to set up viral repositories. The first repository is short staffed at the moment, so they have been working to obtain staff from The Center for Advanced Laboratory Medicine (CALM). CALM was initiated in order to be a bridge between clinical labs and the industry, as many companies want to do assays and therefore need lab access.
In clinical labs they recieve about 10,000 specimens a day. Currently they have set up a robotic refrigerator which can hold 30,000 serum samples which get thrown out after 5-6 days. A staff member has to generate a pick list (a document sent to the source of the item where it is used to fulfill an order) for patients positive for COVID-19 one by one without interfering with clinical lab workflow. This member has to work many hours a day typing numbers and collecting specimens from this robot. They also generate pick lists for DNA, for which they have limited time because there are only 24 hours before they are thrown out.
They had also been going back into the disposable bins containing thrown out samples full of all types of disease. They were looking for the yellow-capped emergency room samples, which would be used to represent people without coronavirus. They are linking the samples to the zip codes to correlate how the virus has affected certain communities.
But, they have to find a way to do this without harming the staff. These samples consist of urine, nasopharyngeal (NP) swabs, blood, and many more things, with the nasopharyngeal swabs being the most dangerous considering they may contain active virus. The first week of this project was concerned with how to collect all the samples safely. They have now opened up a new space to also inactivate the samples and provide them to the research community as fast as possible.
Now that they have the tubes, the question is how to store them. The current plan is to store plasma, serum, and urine with no additives in a separate freezer with different electrical wards. They store the buffy coat in a DNA lysis buffer. But they also need to store NP swabs and rectal swabs, and with the staff right now it is becoming difficult as they are all volunteers and not consistent. They need more permanent staff.