Science Vale UK company Oxford Nanopore has announced an agreement with the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care, to roll out its novel LamPORE test. This will support the UK’s efforts to manage the continued reduction of COVID-19 and containment of new cases, now and through the winter cold and flu season.
Under the agreement, an initial 450 thousand LamPORE SARS-CoV-2 tests will be made available for use by a number of NHS testing laboratories. As well as providing a large number of tests for existing labs, the programme will help the UK to understand the different use cases for the technology, for example the potential asymptomatic screening of frontline staff.
Because of its scalability, LamPORE has the potential to provide both large-scale screening to detect the virus in broader populations and rapid focussed analysis.
LamPORE is designed to be deployed on Oxford Nanopore’s desktop device (GridION) or palm-sized device (MinION Mk1C), providing the capacity of processing up to 15,000 samples a day or 2,000 samples a day respectively. It is well suited to use in a central laboratory for high-throughput sample processing, or near-community ‘pop-up lab’. LamPORE results can be generated in under two hours. The approach of having testing centres available in more locations combined with this speed supports rapid turnaround of results. Fast results can help precise isolation and therefore supports public health strategies to prevent onwards transmission of the virus.
In addition to a test for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, Oxford Nanopore is currently developing LamPORE to test for multiple pathogens within a single sample, including influenza A (H1N1 and H3N2), influenza B, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and SARS-CoV-2. This is intended to allow healthcare professionals to distinguish between these infections, better manage expected winter pressures on the NHS and guide public health and clinical management of these diseases at a time of traditionally heightened pressure on health services. It also supports a goal of understanding dynamics between these viruses in the UK population.
Gordon Sanghera, CEO of Oxford Nanopore said:
“We are honoured to be playing a part in fighting COVID-19 in the UK, and preparing the country for the winter virus season. Ever since we founded Oxford Nanopore, our mission has been to create disruptive, high- performance technology that has a profound, positive impact on society. LamPORE has the potential to deliver a highly effective and, crucially, accessible global testing solution, not only for COVID-19 but for a range of other pathogens. We are delighted to be working with the UK government to support and empower our communities to effectively manage testing at a national and localised level.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said:
“Oxford Nanopore’s new rapid LamPORE tests will benefit thousands of people with fast and accurate test results, removing uncertainty and breaking chains of transmission quickly and safely. I am hugely grateful for the fantastic work Oxford Nanopore have done to push forward this important innovation in coronavirus testing.”
Oxford Nanopore was spun out of the University of Oxford, and has since developed and brought to market a new generation of tools for biological analysis. The Company opened up a new, high-tech manufacturing facility in Oxford in 2019 to support rapid-scaleup of production.