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Published on March 21, 2020

Gundersen develops COVID-19 test

Gundersen Health System has developed a test that detects coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and is now able to determine the result of tests given to patients.

The Gundersen Medical Foundation's Microbiology Research Laboratory developed the test based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requirements under the U.S. Federal Drug Administration's Emergency Use Authorization protocol.

Development of the test allows Gundersen to produce results for patients testing for COVID-19in-house, which will reduce the wait time for test results, said Steven M. Callister, PhD, Microbiology Research Laboratory.

"Having the testing available in-house allows us to provide rapid turnaround test results, which is especially important when the patient is seriously ill or when rapid testing of close contacts are warranted," Callister said.

University of Wisconsin-La Crosse faculty and staff moved quickly Thursday evening and Friday morning to provide important supplies needed to run coronavirus tests.

Enough supplies to run thousands of COVID-19 tests were collected and delivered to the Gundersen testing laboratory Friday morning.

UW-L has faculty and students involved in molecular biology research, so the university had a large number of supplies used to extract RNA from various samples. RNA also carries the genetic information of the coronavirus. Obtaining it from samples is a step in the process of determining if a person is infected with COVID-19.

"We know and work with the researchers at Gundersen and we had the supplies they needed," said Scott Cooper, UW-L director of Undergraduate Research. "We can't do any research for the next few months and anything we can do to help get more COVID-19 tests done in the community the better."

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