EKF opens larger facility to increase production of key component for COVID-19 testing regime
EKF’s new facilities in Llandough, Cardiff, for manufacture of PrimeStore® MTM viral transport media, enabling pathogenic samples to be collected and transported safely and easily in compliance with UN3373 packaging regulations.
EKF Diagnostics, the global in vitro diagnostics company, announces that it has expanded into new larger manufacturing facilities at Llandough Trading Estate, Cardiff, to increase production of PrimeStore® MTM viral transport media, a key component for the COVID-19 testing regime. The new facility is over 600 sq. metres, representing a 100% increase in manufacturing area. This enables EKF to fill 36,000 PrimeStore MTM tubes daily and meet growing UK and EU demand for this novel, patented sample collection device successfully evaluated for effective SARS-CoV-2 inactivation by Public Health England .
Already an established device for safe and easy transportation of pathogenic samples, millions of PrimeStore MTM tubes have now been sold globally during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic; and EKF continues to receive escalating numbers of orders from healthcare, education and industry for COVID-19 testing programmes. As well as the additional manufacturing capacity in Wales, EKF has also increased production at its facilities in Barleben, Germany, and USA in Boerne, Texas, and South Bend, Indiana. The new Cardiff facility will also become a distribution hub for EKF’s latest portfolio addition, the Kantaro COVID-SeroKlir SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibody test kit and provide more space for new product development in the laboratories at EKF’s Headquarters in Penarth, Cardiff.
In addition to the increased floor space, EKF has grown its workforce at a time when many companies in Wales are sadly being forced to make redundancies. The new facility, fitted out using only local contractors, can accommodate up to 40 staff operating three tube filling pump lines and three rooms for sample kit assembly. Already EKF has created over 30 new jobs, including production line operatives, and in quality assurance, customer services, purchasing, operations and logistics to meet the demand for PrimeStore MTM. EKF expects to employ more staff in the short term as it settles into the new facility.
The success of PrimeStore that has necessitated the increased production capacity is due to new high-volume customers, as well as increasing orders from current customers finding that it is helping them to significantly streamline their sample collection and testing processes. This is because the novel sample collection device allows COVID-19 samples from swabs to be rapidly inactivated in the collection tube, avoiding contamination whilst preserving RNA with no requirement for refrigeration. Removing the need for cold chain storage and enabling immediate testing without need for containment in the laboratory delivers cost, efficiency and safety advantages.
Leicester University has established an asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 screening programme to support and reassure staff and students on campus, and reduce viral transmission. “By choosing PrimeStore MTM with its viral inactivation properties, we are ensuring the safe transportation and processing of participants’ samples and ensuring protection for our staff,” said Dr Rebecca Allsopp, Research Associate at Leicester Cancer Research Centre, University of Leicester. “We have the reassurance of RNA stabilisation, protecting sample integrity at room temperature without the need for additional storage requirements. EKF has also provided excellent customer service.”
PrimeStore MTM (Molecular Transport Medium) was specifically designed and optimized for molecular testing allowing pathogenic samples to be collected, transported, and processed safely and efficiently. The molecular transport medium inactivates infectious biological pathogens including viruses (such as SARS-CoV-2 and flu A & B), and gram-positive/negative bacteria whilst preserving and stabilizing labile DNA and RNA for downstream molecular applications under standard laboratory conditions.
Stephen R. Welch et al. (2020). Inactivation analysis of SARS-CoV-2 by specimen transport media, nucleic acid extraction reagents, detergents and fixatives. J. Clin. Microbiol. Volume 58 Issue 11 e01713-20.