Covington Firm Invests in Detection of Coronavirus Variants, Blood Testing

A Covington firm announced this week new investment in technology to detect coronavirus variants, as well as in blood-testing.

Gravity Diagnostics, which expanded rapidly during the COVID-19 pandemic, processed nearly half of Kentucky’s polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests used to detect the presence of the virus in individuals.

That test has been called the most accurate during the pandemic.

Now, Gravity is investing in genome sequencing technology to detect and report variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Gravity was the first Kentucky firm to detect what has been called the UK variant back in February and has been active in finding new Delta variant samples in Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana, the company said.

The Delta variant has been described as more transmissible and as causing more severe illnesses.

Genome sequencing, also known as Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS), uses various methodologies to acquire data about the nucleic acid composition and DNA sequence of a viral sample. This sequencing helps accurately track and identify new mutations in SARS-CoV-2 variants, the company said.

Gravity Diagnostics is currently sequencing every positive sample received in their lab to determine if the virus has mutated. 

Gravity Diagnostics has been reporting their sequencing results to the state health departments, the CDC, and depositing the sequences in the public sequencing databases to inform more research about emerging variants, an announcement said. Sequencing will help improve understanding of how quickly variants appear and which variants are more severe, the announcement said.

Additionally, Gravity announced that it is now working in blood-testing as part of its diagnostic product offerings.

In July 2016, the firm primarily focused on toxicology testing, but quickly added pharmacogenomics, sexually transmitted infection testing, and upper respiratory testing before emerging last year as an industry leader for testing for COVID-19.

COVID-19 antibody testing was Gravity’s first foray into blood.

Gravity now also offers a new menu of blood tests, to monitor and screen for a variety of conditions including cardiovascular diseases, hepatic, and renal function, clotting disorders, endocrine disorders, and infectious diseases, including HIV. Additional offerings will also be added this year, including, but not limited to bloodspot, tuberculosis, hormone, and UTI testing.

“At Gravity, our foundation is built upon anticipating the needs and pain points of those we serve. Our team is comprised of a unique blend of individuals with expertise in patient-facing clinical care, laboratory execution, research and development, operations, sales, IT, and customer service excellence that has been instrumental in our success entering a market that was once considered a “me too,” service. The addition of blood testing is just another example of Gravity responding to the demand we see, feel and hear within the healthcare setting as it stands today,” said Julie Brazil, co-founder, and COO of Gravity Diagnostics.

-Staff report

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