High-tech equipment to conduct thousands of coronavirus tests a day at OU Health Sciences Center

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation studies thousands of patients for various diseases. Now, they’re helping their neighbors across the street with state-of-the-art equipment.

“We typically use this for big studies where we’re examining what genes have been damaged that make people higher for lupus, or multiple sclerosis or many other diseases,” Dr. Stephen Prescott, OMRF President, said.

The $200,000 machine typically used for DNA testing, loaned from OMRF, will be used in coronavirus tests at OU Medicine. Another was loaned to OU Medicine from another out-of-state facility.

“There are lots of machines to do this, but they tend to be one at a time or few at a time. Ours will do 384 at a time,” Prescott said.

And, up to 4,000 tests in one day.

The Biomark HD equipment also uses much less of the liquid agent needed to perform the test.

“It only uses 10 percent as much per test, so of that 384 samples it would use as much as 38 samples from the standard way of doing it,” Prescott said.

OU is expected to start using this method this week.

OMRF is on another path for coronavirus testing as well. They ordered 1,000 blood kits to try to find out if a person who has had COVID-19 can contract the virus again.

The nasal swab only shows if someone currently has coronavirus.

“Obviously, if we see the bigger part of the population already had this and survived it, then we can begin to relax on the restrictions and social distancing,” Prescott said.

But right now, it’s unclear if someone can get the virus more than once.

“It’s highly likely that people who’ve recovered from the virus are going to be protected. It fits with most other infectious diseases. You get some immunity You have long-lasting immunity if you’ve survived the illness,” Prescott said.

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