School of Biological and Chemical Sciences helps KU Med expand coronavirus testing efforts

Tess Hogan

UMKC’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences (SBCS) is helping the University of Kansas Health System expand its coronavirus testing efforts.

The school loaned a TABI 7500 Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction machine, allowing KU Med to scale up its testing capabilities. 

“The machine precisely measures the amount of a specific nucleic acid (RNA and DNA) in a tissue sample,” said Leonard Dobens, a director of research at the SBCS. “For example, researchers in my lab can measure the amount of DNA in the tissues of animals blocked in cell division, while another lab can measure the increase in RNA levels in cell culture starved for nutrients. It is ‘high throughput’ and can examine 96 different samples in a run.”

The school decided to loan the equipment after realizing it could help following an update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that outlined available regional resources.

“We have two 7500 PCR (polymerase chain reaction) machines that are used for processing tests for the virus,” said Theodore White, dean of the SBCS. “We are currently not doing the kind of experiments that require this equipment, so we began to identify a provider who might need one.”

The school temporarily stopped using the machine as a result of the pandemic, and it made contact with the University of Kansas Health System after realizing there was not a need from any of the partners within the UM Health Sciences District.

Although the school has lent out the machine, it still plans to have one at its disposal once labs reopen. 

“SBC is using this opportunity to refurbish a second ABI 7500 that a retiring professor has left behind so that researchers in the department will have this important tool for their own research when all the labs reopen in June,” said Dobens.

The machine will remain on loan for the duration of the crisis.

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