Eastern Pathology Alliance adopts new genotyping testing

The Eastern Pathology Alliance is to offer Hepatitis C genotyping testing nationally utilising equipment from Vela Diagnostics which incorporates Ion Torrent semiconductor sequencing to improve speed, accuracy and reliability.

The new service introduces fast testing, clinical interpretation along with guidance and advice about drug selection.

Mainly affecting the liver, Hepatitis C is the only blood born virus which is a curable infection with success rates of between 92-95%. Although a national data set is unavailable, most recent estimates by Public Health England (PHE) show that 160,000 people are living with chronic Hepatitis C virus infections in the UK.

The use of next generation sequencing assays enables detailed analysis of the genetic material of the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) to confirm its strain – predominantly genotypes 1 and 3 in the UK – and the determination of resistance mutations.  This information is crucially important for clinicians so they can then prescribe the optimum mix of drugs to treat the virus.

Dr Samir Dervisevic, a Consultant Virologist and the Clinical Lead for Virology at the EPA’s Microbiology Department explains “In May 2016, the UK signed up to the World Health Organization strategy on viral hepatitis which commits participating countries to the elimination of Hepatitis C virus as a major public health threat by 2030. In England, HCV treatment is centrally funded and the NHS England direct acting antiviral (DAA) treatment programme continues to be rolled out with several medications authorised.  Given this, ascertaining the genotype strain before treatment starts is recommended especially as the duration of treatment among other factors depends on the virus genotype.”

“We have invested in the latest cutting edge solution of our own which gives us automated workflow from sample to results within just two days so that patients get the right treatment fast. We’re now happy to offer our clinical colleagues access to this modern technology so that they receive a quick, accurate and reliable diagnostic service combined with clinical backup and expertise.”

Reenesh Prakash, EPA microbiology network manager explains “The contract we’ve signed is an interesting one.  We’ve agreed with Genmed and Vela Diagnostics the volume of work we’ll deliver over time and adopted a tax efficient MSC where we’re charged per reportable test.”

Robin Modak, Genmed’s chief executive officer, said “We’ve been able to put in place the best, most modern laboratory equipment for the EPA with an innovative and flexible charging model.  The EPA’s primary duty is assay performance and the provision of care.  But it is the patient who is the real winner from all this – as one would hope – as the time from test to accurate diagnosis has been radically reduced.”