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New Robotic System for Ultra-High Throughput SARS-CoV-2 Testing

New Robotic System for Ultra-High Throughput SARS-CoV-2 Testing

A pioneering automated test robot, called STRIP-1, can process up to 20,000 SARS-CoV-2 samples in 24 hours

Ziath reports how it has worked with the Hubrecht Institute (Utrecht, Netherlands) to develop a pioneering automated test robot, called STRIP-1, which can process up to 20,000 samples for SARS-CoV-2 testing in just 24 hours.

This makes it much faster than all other automated SARS-CoV-2 testing systems used to date. In addition, all samples can be precisely tracked because they have a 2D-barcode on the bottom of each tube that is scanned multiple times throughout the process. This also enables an automatic online return of test results to the tested persons, which will relieve the burden on laboratory personnel who were severely overloaded during the first wave of COVID-19 in the spring of 2020.

The Hubrecht Institute and Genmab have developed a new robot, the STRIP-1 - test robot, that can process up to 20,000 samples for COVID-19 testing per 24 hours. 


Wouter de Laat and Marvin Tanenbaum, group leaders at the Hubrecht Institute, worked closely with Martijn Bosch, automation specialist at local instrument manufacturer Genmab, to develop STRIP-1. This team decided to adopt 2D-barcoding of the sample tubes throughout the robotic workflow. This was achieved by integrating a Ziath Mirage camera-based 2D barcode reader into the automation platform. The high-speed of reading and decoding offered by the Mirage, around 1 second for a full 96 position rack used in STRIP-1, was a key factor in the choice of Ziath, allowing the robot to reach its maximum potential of 20,000 samples per day.

Ziath Mirage camera-based 2D barcode tube reader in action on STRIP-1 Robot system.

"We hoped that we could organize everything in a faster and more intelligent way by using robots, so that became our focus almost immediately," said de Laat. The STRIP-1 robot was designed by Bosch according to optimization of our SARS-CoV-2 test requirements. Bosch commented: "Not just the new robot system, but also the whole chain of events posed a challenge. From sample collection, registration, the logistics, and the tracking of samples to the test itself and reporting the results, basically the entire chain of events from patient to test and back, that was the big challenge.” The Ziath Mirage ensures correct registration, tracking, and reporting of the patient samples as they arrive in the lab and are reformatted into 384-well PCR plates to increase throughput while conserving valuable and currently scarce PCR reagents.

Automated SARS-CoV-2 testing using STRIP-1 Robot system.
Hubrecht Institute

The robot was ordered from Swiss automation company Tecan, who delivered and installed it just before the end of December 2020 at PAMM medical microbiology laboratory in Veldhoven, Netherlands. On January 27, 2021, Hugo de Jonge from the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport visited the robot at the PAMM laboratory, as the Dutch government plans to order five more STRIP-1 systems in the future if the validation procedure delivers the expected results. Together, these robots will be able to process more than 100,000 samples every 24 hours.

For further information on the Ziath Mirage camera-based 2D barcode reader please visit our website or contact Ziath on +44-1223-855021 / +1 858-880-6920 / info@ziath.com.

Founded in 2005, Ziath specializes in development of innovative instrumentation control and information management products using 2D DataMatrix barcoded tubes to simplify automation processes in life science organizations, from academia, to the biotech and pharma industries.

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