UMKC Furthers Local Hospital’s COVID-19 Testing Capabilities

School of Biological and Chemical Sciences lends University of Kansas Health System equipment to increase Kansas City’s testing opportunities

As the coronavirus continues to spread, patient testing has become critical, but it is often unavailable. In an effort to increase detection and decrease the spread of the virus, the UMKC School of Biological and Chemical Sciences loaned the University of Kansas Health System a piece of equipment to scale up testing possibilities in the area. 

When local hospitals and state laboratories received an update from the Centers for Disease Control outlining available resources for states in the battle against the COVID-19 coronavirus, UMKC faculty members realized they could help. 

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

After determining that none of the facilities that are partners in the UMKC Health Sciences District had a need, the school contacted the University of Kansas Health System. The 7500 PCR will be on loan to the medical center for the duration of the crisis. The additional machine will allow KU Health System to scale up its testing capabilities, which benefits the metropolitan area.

The 7500 PCR system is small enough to fit in the back of a sport utility vehicle. The machine rapidly makes copies of specific DNA, then moves quickly through three cycles of different temperatures. This process allows scientists to take small sample and achieve quick results. The system is commonly used in processing prenatal tests and forensics testing. A new processor would cost approximately $50,000.

“When things go back to normal, the machine will come back to us,” White said. “In the meantime, we’re thrilled it’s making a difference in fighting the virus.”


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Published: Apr 21, 2020

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