Alluxa’s role in the fight against COVID-19

Accurate testing and detection of SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus responsible for COVID-19, is key to stop the spread of this deadly respiratory disease.

The underlying technology behind many COVID-19 tests is a type of DNA amplification technique known as a polymerase chain reaction (PCR). More specifically, quantitative-real-time-PCR-based assays are able to test for the presence of a pathogen by determining if known segments of DNA are present in a sample. If those exact sequences are present, the corresponding genetic material will be multiplied over a series of cycles, producing a positive result.

Since the genome of SARS-CoV-2 consists of single-stranded RNA rather than DNA, an extra step is required at the beginning of this process. A complimentary DNA copy of the RNA genome is created prior to the PCR reaction using an enzyme called reverse transcriptase. The PCR reaction is then able to proceed through the use of primers that affix to the denatured complimentary DNA when a match has been found. Once a primer has affixed, an enzyme called taq polymerase is then able to elongate the correct DNA sequence that follows the primer by using available nucleotides in the medium and the complimentary DNA strand as a template. This process is repeated over multiple cycles, with the quantity of target DNA doubling each time.

In the case of real-time PCR, fluorescent probes are used to quantitatively analyze the amount of target DNA produced during each cycle and over the course of the reaction. In order to identify these fluorescent probes, these instruments are integrated with a spectrofluorometer that uses a light source to excite the fluorophore and a detector to record the intensity of the resultant fluorescent emission.

However, because fluorescence excitation and emission correspond to specific narrow regions of light, instrument performance and accuracy rely heavily on optical filters to transmit the excitation light to the sample and the emission light to the detector, while blocking out all other wavelengths.

We make those optical filters. We also manufacture various other optical interference filters used in COVID-19 research. Along with many other supply-chain manufacturers, we are doing everything we can to prioritize the manufacturing and R&D projects that are directly related to COVID-19, while protecting our employees in the process.

We owe an enormous debt to all of the health care professionals and first responders who are putting their lives on the line, along with all of the researchers, biotechnologists, and public health officials who are working tirelessly during this unprecedented time. As part of the supply chain for COVID-19 test equipment, it is our duty to support them.

To learn more about our role in the fight against COVID-19, please read our recent mention in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat or listen to Peter Egerton’s interview with KSRO.

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