Genopole mobilized rapidly to support not only its accredited businesses and laboratories affected by the COVID-19 health crisis but also its campus neighbor, the South Île-de-France Medical Center. The ecosystem’s strength is visible therein: a united group of actors, many very aware of the weight of serious disease, enabling rapid action in an unprecedented context.
COVID DISEASE MAP: STRENGTHENING THE BATTLE VIA CENTRALIZED KNOWLEDGE
Anna Niarakis is a systems bioinformatics researcher within the GenHotel lab and one of the four coordinators for the international COVID-19 Disease Map program. Launched in the spring of 2020, the program seeks to collectively and rapidly establish a map of the entirety of host-pathogen interactions in SARS-CoV-2 infection. It thus centralizes all current and future knowledge on COVID-19 disease mechanisms in a single, progressively- enriched platform. The program aims to provide the international scientific community with a tool to accelerate knowledge on COVID-19 and the development of novel therapeutics.
AN ONLINE PRESCRIPTION ASSISTANCE TOOL
Some treatments used for COVID-19 can provoke heart rhythm disorders. The South Île-de-France Medical Center partnered with the IBISC laboratory to develop an automated tool able to calculate a risk score for adverse cardiac effects in this setting. It categorizes patients as being at low, medium or high risk, thus providing an important datum to guide the physician’s choice of therapeutics. The tool is available online for all clinicians.
TOWARD MASS DIAGNOSIS OF COVID-19
Marco Mendoza, who benefitted from a Genopole Atige grant to create the SysFate research team, is launching a large-scale COVID-19 screening project called POSCOVD. This latter aims to replace individual molecular tests by the simultaneous sequencing of a great number of grouped samples. The technology comprises a DNA “barcode” to identify any one patient’s sample within the group of samples. In July of 2020, POSCOVD was chosen as one of seven laureates of the special project call Fight-SARS-Cov-2 launched by DIM Elicit (Domain of Main Interest retained by the Île-de-France Administrative Region).
First operational screening center in Île-de-France
Upon the governmental requisition of public research laboratories to respond to the COVID-19 epidemic, I-Stem, in partnership with the CHSF, Genopole, the Essonne Prefecture and the regional health agency, deployed a COVID-19 RT-PCR testing platform.
With its expertise in molecular biology, I-Stem furnished its automated high throughput PCR equipment and reorganized a part of its facilities to accomplish the task. Genopole made the BSL-1 and 2 labs at the Clinical and Translational Research Center available, along with a DNA/RNA extractor able to treat 96 samples in 25 minutes. To prevent exterior contamination, the sector was isolated from the rest of the center and equipped with a negative pressure enclosure.
These installations were made available to the CHSF so that it was able to manage the predicted flood of samples to be analyzed, notably for the second wave of the pandemic. Equipped with PPE gowns, FFP2 masks, protective eyewear and doubled shoe covers and gloves, a team of about 30 volunteer scientists staffed the facilities in on-call groups.
- Friday, 29 May 2020: a prefectorial order authorizes the platform for the analytical phase of RT-PCR-based detection of SARS-CoV-2 under the responsibility of the CHSF Medical Biology Laboratory Chief and for the duration of the state of emergency.
- Wednesday, 3 June 2020: Essonne Prefect Jean-Benoît Albertini visits the platform.
- Monday, 15 June 2020: The first 125 samples sent by the CHSF are analyzed, marking the launch of the first operational hospital laboratory support center in Île-de-France.