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Charnwood Lighthouse Lab Goes Live Processing Thousands of COVID-19 Tests per Day

Charnwood Lighthouse Lab Goes Live Processing Thousands of COVID-19 Tests per Day  content piece image
Lighthouse Lab Charnwood Loughborough run by PerkinElmer. Credit: PerkinElmer
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PerkinElmer, Inc., announced today the Lighthouse Lab in Charnwood, Loughborough, England is now processing COVID-19 testing samples as part of the Company’s collaboration with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) in support of the UK Government’s NHS Test and Trace program.

The facility, operated by PerkinElmer Genomics, began processing samples today, and with its team of 400 scientists, researchers, technicians and operations personnel, has the capacity to test up to 50,000 samples daily by early 2021.

The Lighthouse Lab at Charnwood Campus is the result of a collaboration between the DHSC and PerkinElmer, which has been engaged to equip, staff, and manage the facility using PerkinElmer’s proprietary COVID-19 kits, diagnostic equipment, and industry leading workflow solutions.

Commenting on the launch of the Lighthouse Lab, PerkinElmer’s Managing Director for UK & Ireland, Miles Burrows, said: “PerkinElmer’s ability to draw on expertise from our operations across the globe has enabled us to rapidly build a facility that will apply our best-in-class technologies to efficiently test individuals and identify those carrying the virus. In addition to assisting the DHSC to ramp up the nation’s testing capacity, this lab has created hundreds of new jobs locally. This has allowed us to develop and deploy a team who are ready to play such an essential role in managing this pandemic.”

This experienced team will enable the facility to operate 24 hours per day. The Lighthouse Lab in Charnwood has created opportunities for graduates and those who are pursuing careers in the life sciences to start their careers at the forefront of delivering the UK’s national testing program.

Health Minister Lord Bethell said: “I am delighted the new Lighthouse Lab in Charnwood is now up and running. The lab is part of Britain’s largest ever network of diagnostic testing facilities and will support our strategy to stop the spread of the virus by helping us boost testing capacity and speed-up turnaround times.

“I’d like to thank everyone involved in the Charnwood lab who will play such an integral role in helping people get their test results as quickly as possible. The sooner test results are received, the sooner we can take swift action to trace the contacts of those people who test positive, and the sooner those who test negative can get back to normal life.”

Charnwood is the second Lighthouse Lab to be brought online by PerkinElmer on behalf of the DHSC. In October, the global diagnostics and life sciences leader opened the first of its COVID-19 testing operations in Newport, South Wales, which processes thousands of test samples per day.

Interim Executive Chair of the National Institute for Health Protection Baroness Dido Harding said: “Testing capacity for those with COVID-19 symptoms has increased almost five-fold in six months, from 100,000 a day at the end of April to 500,000 a day by the end of October, but we are not stopping there.

“Charnwood Lighthouse Lab is an important part of our growing network of labs that are working together to extend and improve testing across the whole country. I would like to congratulate everyone involved for their hard work in getting the lab up and running so quickly.”

In addition to creating and operating facilities for the Lighthouse Lab network, PerkinElmer also supplies testing capabilities, equipment and reagents to NHS Trusts across the UK. 

Gosia Khrais, the director for Charnwood Campus, said: “I would like to welcome Department of Health and Social Care and PerkinElmer as new occupiers on the site. The addition of the DHSC and PerkinElmer to the stronghold of science-driven organizations here is fantastic news for Charnwood and our local economy. It would not have happened without an effort of a number of stakeholders, our local Council and MP, as well as of the committed design and construction team that delivered this fast-paced project on time.”

PerkinElmer is utilizing its chemagic™ 360 instruments and JANUS® G3 PCR+ Workstations in these UK labs to automate PerkinElmer’s RNA extraction and RT-PCR tests. This total workflow solution enables rapid sample processing at higher volumes, helping to decrease turnaround time. PerkinElmer’s OneSource® services and PerkinElmer Genomics operations enable this turnkey approach to provide sample testing in order to meet the Government’s immediate and future COVID-19 testing requirements.