Accurate detection of viruses in blood and other biological materials is vital to prevent transmission of several diseases that pose a great risk to human health. It is also crucial in clinically managing these diseases.
Our group carries out 3 key functions:
- the production of International Standards and secondary working standards that can be used by the diagnostics industry to ensure that nucleic acid amplification based tests (NAT assays) for virus detection are both accurate and sensitive
- the production of secondary working standards that can be used as run controls for antibody-based tests – serological assays – for virus detection to ensure these tests are performed with reproducible accuracy
- official batch release (OCABR) testing of plasma pools – used by manufacturers that produce a range of blood products – to ensure that they are free from detectable contamination with hepatitis B, hepatitis C, hepatitis A, HIV, and parvovirus B19
We work closely with the World Health Organisation (WHO) expert committee for biological standardisation as well as more specialist international and national advisory groups such as Standardisation of Genome Amplification Tests (SoGAT) and the UK Clinical Virology Network (CVN) to select and prioritise the diagnostic assays where there is the most urgent need for reference materials.
Our work helps to ensure that blood and blood products are not contaminated with potentially fatal chronic virus infections such as hepatitis C and HIV as happened during the 1980s. We believe that producing clinical virology diagnostic standards will improve diagnosis and management of these infections in a similar manner.