Scientists at the Bernal Institute at the University of Limerick have responded to the shortage of reagents by preparing a testing solution now being used at the city's acute hospital.

Bigger batches are being produced by pharma companies to meet the demand as the testing of patients rises across the country.

A Covid-19 action group has been established at the University of Limerick to co-ordinate its research activities in response to the pandemic.

A group of scientists at the Bernal Institute, as well as the departments of chemical and biological sciences, have responded to the shortage of reagents for testing by making a lysis buffer. This is an essential solution needed to break open cell membrane in the testing process.

University Hospital Limerick reached out to the UL Graduate Entry Medical School to help them in sourcing a lysis buffer after they ran short. 

Dr Edel Durack - an instrument scientist at Bernal Bio Laboratories - and a team of technicians from the School of Natural Sciences at UL prepared the lysis buffer solution which is critical for DNA extraction and is required to generate results from patient swabs.

"It's a day-to-day struggle to source reagents for the testing process and we were able to fill that gap," Dr Durak said.

"The solution we made has been validated by UL Hospital for use, enabling pharmaceutical companies now to rapidly-produce bigger volumes of this solution to help meet the demand for testing patients." 

UL Vice President of Research Prof Norelee Kennedy, who is coordinating the Covid-19 action group, said academics at the university are also looking at a wide range of research around the pandemic, particularly the post-Covid-19 world, around antibody testing and how we know when patients are better, as well as their experiences and recovery from the illness.