MSU Virus Testing Machine to Help Find COVID-19
Montana State University equipment which finds viruses in bees is being used to test for COVID-19 at Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital. Marshall Swearingen of the MSU News Service writes that the qPCR analyzer was developed to study viruses that attack bee colonies. Assistant Professor Michelle Flenniken said in the news release, "The testing process for detecting SARS-CoV-2 in human patient samples isn't all that different." Bozeman Health system manager for laboratory services Doug Smoot said the tests from the MSU machine have been rigorously tested and give accurate results comparable to those at the state lab in Helena. MSU researcher Blake Wiedenheft, along with Artem Nemudryy and Anna Nemudraia, used a qPCR analyzer to develop the testing procedure at Bozeman Health, which could perform up to 60 COVID-19 tests daily. The analyzer could also observe how the virus might mutate.
Christopher Nero of Bozeman Health is certified by the American Board of Pathology and American Board of Medical Genetics and Genomics and has helped ensure the accuracy of the tests. Nero said the tests will be first be offered to Bozeman Health staff and Bozeman-area first responders. He said, "It's a win-win. MSU wanted to be able to do coronavirus research, we wanted to test patients and everyone wanted to work together." The project is supported by grants from M.J.Murdock Charitable Trust and the Gianforte Family Foundation. More information is available at the MSU News website.