Working at the forefront of the private sector for Next Generation Sequencing (NGS), Cerba Research has shifted its organizational focus to better serve evolving national objectives in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing the company to reduce the time necessary for full sequencing of the virus to one third.
As variants of the virus continue to emerge, it has been more important to deliver very large-scale vaccination programs. It has also become evident that controlling the epidemic necessitates a more systematic approach to the high-throughput sequencing of the virus.
In France, NGS has facilitated the detailed, real-time characterization of both the epidemiology and the circulation of the virus.
Cerba HealthCare is a leading reference player in medical diagnostics. The company has been working to support the French Health Authorities by providing private NGS sequencing of SARS CoV-2.
These private laboratories are able to confidently identify, monitor and study emerging COVID-19 variants, working in close collaboration with the Santé Publique France and the National Reference Centre (CNR).
By leveraging its rapid mobilization capabilities and flexibility, Cerba has been working since the beginning of the pandemic to lower the time needed to completely sequence the virus to one-third. This improved sequencing speed means that results can be shared with the CNR in under a week.
Cerba operates a reference laboratory and a network of 450 local Cerballiance laboratories, utilizing its extensive expertise in specialized biology to develop unparalleled private sector capacity and offer ten NGS sequencing platforms.
These platforms are employed in conjunction with access to a large number of representative patient samples from various health regions.
These characteristics have allowed Cerba HealthCare to assume a key role in the fight against the pandemic, allowing the Group to feed into the first Flash studies into COVID-19 by delivering complex sequencing data designed to enable effective characterization of epidemiological data.
With this epidemiological data in place, Health Authorities can make improved, more evidence-based decisions.
Sylvie Cado – the CEO of Cerba – elaborates on this work: “We are pleased that private players are allowed to continue their participation in the national virus sequencing effort.”
On the one hand, France has the technical means and expertise to shine in this field, and on the other hand, the scale of the health crisis encourages the mobilisation of all players, both public and private, that are able to contribute.”
Cerba is fully mobilised to complement the efforts of the national reference centres in terms of NGS sequencing, with the dual objective of expanding the country’s capacity to curb the epidemic and providing input for epidemiological studies. Sequencing is of course a matter of expertise and equipment, but it is important to emphasise its purpose: to identify and track the spread of new variants allows us to delay as much as possible their circulation within the population, and to hasten the adaptation of diagnostic capacities and possibly the vaccination strategy.”
Sylvie Cado, CEO, Cerba Research
Cerba’s work to sequence SARS CoV-2 is in line with the company’s wide strategy, which saw it become the first private company in France to make use of a high-throughput sequencing platform in 2013.
This platform has been employed in fields as varied as infectious pathologies, oncology and constitutional genetics.
The company’s expertise in high-throughput sequencing has also allowed Cerba to design and develop the non-invasive prenatal diagnosis (NIPD) test in 2013. This genetic test is able to detect trisomy 21 by analyzing DNA circulating in the maternal blood.
Since October 2020, Cerba has carried out extensive high-throughput sequencing of the SARS CoV-2 virus in line with its specialty clinical trial biology activity. This work has contributed to a range of studies dedicated to vaccine development or the design of anti-COVID therapeutic approaches.
About Cerba Research
For over 35 years, Cerba Research has been setting the industry standard for exemplary clinical trial conduct. Today, across five continents, with a focus on precision medicine, we are changing the paradigm of the central lab’s role in complex clinical research.
From protocol inception through development and to market, our passionate experts deliver the highest quality specialized and personalized laboratory and diagnostic solutions. Partner with us for the most efficient strategy to actualize your biotech and pharmaceutical products sooner and improve the lives of patients worldwide.
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