Lessons from the Frontlines: How a Louisville Lab Used the ARIES® System to Respond to the COVID-19 Pandemic

The sample-to-answer platform delivered timely and accurate test results during a critical time

Lessons from the Frontlines: How a Louisville Lab Used the ARIES® System to Respond to the COVID-19 Pandemic

As COVID-19 began to spread in early 2020, scientists and medical professionals across the world began quickly responding to community needs, shifting priorities to help understand and address the pandemic. At this year’s Association for Molecular Pathology (AMP) annual meeting, we hosted a virtual workshop with one of the scientists working diligently to solve the pandemic puzzle.

Leslie Wolf, PhD, Director of the Infectious Diseases Laboratory (IDL) at the University of Louisville, runs a high-capacity laboratory serving four major health systems in Louisville, Kentucky and southern Indiana. Dr. Wolf and her team knew they needed a reliable testing solution for their community, so they developed an assay to detect SARS-CoV-2 using the ARIES® System.

Why the ARIES® System was the right choice for the IDL

The laboratory adopted the ARIES® System in 2016. “We really were looking for a sample-to-answer solution for our laboratory,” Dr. Wolf said. With limited physical space and a need to maintain rapid turnaround times, the versatile ARIES® System was a natural choice and generated results in just two hours.

Because it can be used for in vitro diagnostics (IVD) as well as laboratory-developed tests (LDTs), the ARIES® System enabled the lab to expand their test menu without needing to allocate additional space for more equipment with each new test. Dr. Wolf also noted that Luminex’s comprehensive technical and customer support services were important to the IDL team when they were choosing a platform.

Responding to the evolving needs of the pandemic

As the pandemic worsened, Dr. Wolf’s lab used a modified version of the CDC’s primers to build their own LDT, which detects the N1 and N3 targets of the SARS-CoV-2 genome. Dr. Wolf noted that the team’s experience and familiarity with the ARIES® System made it an ideal platform for their development process.

Due to increased testing demand, their lab purchased two additional ARIES® Systems, hired temporary staff, added evening and weekend shifts, and cross-trained employees from the lab’s biorepository to manage the additional throughput, which allowed them to keep test results moving.

From the start of the lab’s COVID-19 testing through early October, Dr. Wolf’s team ran nearly 12,000 SARS-CoV-2 tests on the ARIES® System. They began with public health surveillance work and quickly shifted to diagnostic testing for healthcare workers, hospital inpatients, large companies, and nursing home staff and residents. While the lab also validated a protocol for sample pooling, Dr. Wolf said that this approach made less sense, as local positivity rates increased well over the ideal pooling threshold of 5%.

“The ARIES® System has really been invaluable to our laboratory in developing PCR-based testing for our community,” Dr. Wolf said. “We were able to provide timely and accurate results for a variety of populations. [It] has met the needs of our laboratory in a really chaotic time.”

If you’d like to learn more about the IDL and how the ARIES® System offered a multi-faceted solution to their COVID-19 challenges, you can watch the entire educational workshop here.

For more information about our COVID-19 testing and research solutions, check out our website.

Watch the IDL ARIES System Workshop here.

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