Global contract research organisation PPD has expanded its laboratory test portfolio by adding five new molecular, serology and functional assays to support Covid-19 vaccine and therapy development programmes.

The five new assays have been developed by the company’s bioanalytical, biomarker and vaccines sciences labs, and are designed to run on multiple assay platforms.

PPD said that the assays are compatible with high-throughput liquid handling and are capable of supporting numerous specimens, attributes that contribute to the Covid-19 clinical trials.

PPD Laboratories executive vice president Christopher Fikry said: “PPD Laboratories is fully committed to helping our customers bring COVID-19 vaccines and therapies to fruition.

“The addition of these five assays to our test portfolio will enable us to expand our support of many important COVID-19 trials. We’ve also incorporated innovative measures so trials can start more quickly, run more efficiently and conclude sooner.”

The new assays will leverage reverse transcriptase, polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR)

The new molecular assays will leverage reverse transcriptase, polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), an advanced analysis technique that helps in the diagnosis of disease and provide a measure of gene expression, making it a key tool for viral infection studies.

The assays are said to detect SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, and measures the number of infectious particles to determine viral load.

The assays are designed to target spike proteins that are specific to SARS-CoV-2 and nucleocapsid proteins that are more general to the coronaviruses, said the company.

The quantitative RT-qPCR assay specifically targets nucleocapsid proteins and leverages human ribonuclease P (RNase P) targets as a purification control.

The qualitative RT-PCR assay targets both spike and nucleocapsid proteins within open read frame 1 (ORF-1) and utilises MS2 bacteriophage as a monitor for ribonucleic acid (RNA) purification.

PPD has developed two enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) for vaccine trials to detect immunoglobulin G to full-length recombinant protein, one for spike and the other for nucleocapsid.