Searching for Answers Amid a Global Pandemic: Quartzy Labs Step Up

COVID-19. Social distancing. Self-quarantine. We are all too familiar with these terms that are synonymous with the global pandemic happening all around us.

Many households are adjusting to a new norm of being sheltered-in-place, but there are front-line medical staff and essential business personnel who don’t have the same option to stay safe at home. Each day they risk their lives to support us and we are eternally grateful. There is also another group of unsung heroes working immeasurably hard from the familiar confines of their science labs. They aren’t on the front-lines, but they are of equal importance.

Like many Quartzy users, Saveez Saffarian focuses his time saffarianPhotoon scientific research. Saffarian is an Associate Professor of Physics & Astronomy and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences at The University of Utah. Recently, Saveez and his colleague have started investigating the stability of synthetic SARS-CoV2 particles without a genome. This specific particle strain is at the epicenter of the disease affecting nearly 800,000 people globally. With a general focus on microscopy techniques, Saffarian and his colleague recently received a special grant from The National Science Foundation (NSF) that allowed them to immediately begin research on the novel coronavirus using a quicker grant approval process called RAPID. “The researchers will test how the structure of the coronavirus withstands changes in humidity and temperature, and under what conditions the virus falls apart,” Lisa Potter writes in a university publication. In addition to the ongoing research of discovering a vaccine for this notorious virus, it is equally important to understand the conditions in which such viruses thrive. This will allow us to prevent such pandemics in the future and respond more proactively.

In addition to research, many of Quartzy's users are focusing efforts on developing research-specific products that can be used to test for the disease quicker and more accurately. Phase Scientific is a startup company based in Southern California and Hong Kong. Their team has recently developed and launched "PHASIFY VIRAL, a novel RNA extraction kit that can be used to purify and concentrate RNA from SARS-COV-2 in viral transport media," says David Pereira, PhD and Research Scientist at the startup. When working with human samples, retrieving clean RNA or DNA from the sample is required and must be extracted using a kit. These kits are currently in short supply. Fortunately, Phase Scientific has created a unique extraction kit using their "proprietary liquid-phase technology" that increases sensitivity compared to regular kits. The new kits will fill a much-needed supply gap that labs are currently facing. "We're working hard on getting this kit into as many hands as possible and meeting the needs of customers testing for COVID-19."

Annotation 2020-04-06 171552Not far away, in Los Angeles, KorvaLabs operates as an analytical testing and research lab. They typically focus on anti-doping science but have recently switched gears and partnered with Curative, Inc. to create Curative-Korva. “We are concentrating on helping our city in the fight against COVID-19,” Jonathan Martin, COO of the Los Angeles-based lab, explains. Patient samples collected from hospitals and other facilities will be sent to Martin and his team for rapid processing. They hope to process 5,000 tests daily with the help of a new, innovative robotic technology. Eventually they’d like to process up to 10,000 tests daily. Setting up one of the largest testing efforts in California has been a massive process that requires round-the-clock dedication of those involved; some employees have found it necessary to sleep on-site in shifts. The lab is doing all it can to achieve great success and eventual replication of the innovative testing method.

Quartzy is honored to support these labs and all the others out there working extraordinarily hard to defeat this disease; putting their lives on hold to make a significant contribution to humankind. It’s hard not to step up our own game in response to our customers doing the same. We recently opened an east coast fulfillment center to better serve our customers. It will provide faster shipping for the critical supplies labs rely on. Additionally, we have been working diligently to monitor and replenish our inventory as quickly as possible to ensure supply continuity. Labs can reach out to us anytime if they are having difficulty finding necessary items.

Our platform is a small, yet fundamental, part of the greater equation. We help scientists stay digitally organized and productive so they can focus on their mission-critical COVID-19 research. “We have received tremendous support and help from the science community and we will need more help with suppliers from companies like Quartzy,” Jonathan emailed when approached for this blog. “We are so glad you guys are helping us. You are an integral part of our lab,” Safeez echoed in his own sentiments. At a time when news is constantly grim, let’s take a moment to applaud the tireless scientists devoting their days to this cause.

To read about Quartzy suppiers responding to COVID-19, click here.

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Emily Yeomans

Emily Yeomans

Emily has a BA in Communications and an MA in Marriage and Family Therapy. She is a Marketing Specialist at Quartzy and resides in Portland, Oregon with her husband and two children.