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Conventional lab methods can no longer support the demands of the pandemic

Article-Conventional lab methods can no longer support the demands of the pandemic

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Sean Hwang, Director of Strategy, GC Labs speaks about how innovation will shape the future of testing in the laboratory.

A significant increase in the cases of infectious diseases, combined with a surge in the demand for accurate and timely diagnosis has set in motion the need to innovate solutions within the realm of clinical diagnostics. Clinical laboratory services are highly sought after, especially in the Middle East and Africa region, a result of infectious disease cases which are rising.

COVID-19’s spread has accelerated the demand for testing, shortening the analytical time to accommodate these needs. To supply to the existing demand, GC labs is eyeing further expansion within the Middle and showcasing its transformative solutions in the 2022 edition of Medlab Middle East from January 24th to 27th . “Smart labs” is one of the concepts exhibited by the clinical laboratory that provides an automated test system to improve speed and efficiency of tests, allowing the company to report results in just a day or two.

GC labs are also hosting a seminar titled Public Private Transformation that will lead key discussions about the necessity of technological integrations within diagnostics and the lab.

We spoke to Sean Hwang, Director of Strategy at GC to discuss why modern day laboratory relies on technology and innovation and how it will shape the future of diagnostics.

There has been a demand for genetics and infectious disease tests in the region, can you tell us more how this and how it prompted GC labs to further expand in the Middle East?

Globally, there has been a growing demand for genetics and infectious disease tests, especially in the Middle East region. GC labs has a specialised genetic testing unit, which has the human molecular genetics department and cytogenetics department. For infectious disease, we have the molecular or microbial biology department, where we perform infectious disease testing for COVID-19.

The smart lab concept is truly a step forward, can you elaborate on the tech aspect and why its necessary to innovate to align with the new needs and demands of healthcare? Can you also tell us about WASPLab?

Conventional clinical laboratory methods can no longer accommodate the increased demand for testing during the pandemic. Clinical laboratory innovations such as automation of testing, owning the holistic system of whole testing sequence, having a biologistic systems, lab information system are all needs of the present day laboratory.

WASPlab is an automated test system that automatically processes the series of steps from sample receipt to inoculation, culture, and interpretation. This was first introduced in Korea and would go on to drastically improve the speed and efficiency in microbiology testing service.

GC labs is hosting the seminar Public-Private Partnership in Global Health: bringing the best of both worlds to improve testing at Medlab, with an impressive line-up – can you tell us more about this seminar and its aim?

GC lab will host our own seminar titled Public- Private Partnerships in Global Health, bringing the best of both worlds to improve testing on 25th of January at the Medlab. The line-up includes globally renowned specialists such as Lelio Marmora, former CEO in Unitaid;  Pr. Michel Kazatchkine, former executive director the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria; Dr. Eskild Petersen, MD, Editor-in-chief of IJID Regions, an official journal of the International Society for Infectious Diseases (ISID); Dr. Amina Al-Jardani, Director of Central Public Health Laboratories (CPHL), Directorate General for Disease Surveillance and Control, Ministry of Health, Oman; and Eun-hee Lee, President at GC Labs. The aim of the seminar is to spark an interactive session where key insights are exchanged.

Labs all over the world have undergone tremendous challenges, and have played a vital role in the battle against COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, what have we learned from a diagnostics point of view?

Historically, public international organisations by governments have managed past pandemics, however presently the public sector needs more support from companies in the private sector such as GC labs, private clinics, or private clinical laboratories.

To drive pandemic management, by executing COVID-19 testing services and research and development, this integration is key. Therefore, public, and private sectors need to work closely together to ensure that in the future there can be a system in place for managing a pandemic.

What are the best practices in clinical diagnostics presently and what does the future for diagnostics?

In Korea there has been relative success in COVID-19 control. Companies like GC labs have made a very quick turnaround, increasing in testing capacity of COVID-19. Together with the system and working with the CDC, Korea has relatively maintained the level of COVID-19 management incorporating innovative diagnostics which is fuelling the future of the lab.

There's more sophisticated testing, together with some regional differentiation in diagnostic. This integrated, large scale diagnostic laboratory would have more opportunity to expand not only domestically, but also in global operation.

What will GC labs be showcasing at Medlab?

Our GC virtual tour at Medlab shows our laboratory’s automated testing service. We offer a short analytical time compared to the other labs, and another project presently under development is using AI for accurate, rapid testing and reducing error rate.

These types of innovative approaches will continue to help us evolve. From a perspective of automation, we are now focused on automated systems as they logically reduce error rate versus manual systems. AI technology applies well to clinical diagnostics, and this will reflect in accurate testing and reduced analytical time.

How vital is the Middle East market for diagnostics presently?

We are physically participating at Medlab for the first time since 2018, over this five-year span, GC labs has expanded its global presence in Middle East. We are operating in the UAE and Saudi Arabia and are planning on further expansion in the Middle East. The Middle East is an important market for various industries, not only healthcare hence it is receiving internal recognition and attention.

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