Poba Medical’s cleanroom assembly line helps TGen provide coronavirus tests for some of Arizona’s most vulnerable and underserved populations
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — July 2, 2020 — In response to the continuing need for more COVID-19 diagnostic tests, the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), an affiliate of City of Hope, is working with Poba Medical in northern Arizona to produce 10,000 coronavirus test kits per month, it was announced today.
Poba Medical is in the same industrial park near the Flagstaff airport as TGen’s Pathogen and Microbiome Division, the institute’s infectious disease branch, also known as TGen North, where TGen’s efforts against the new coronavirus is centered.
This partnership is helping TGen North fill the gaps in Arizona’s testing systems by focusing on highly vulnerable and underserved groups across the state, including: tribal, indigent and psychiatric health services, county jails, front-line medical workers at community healthcare centers, and as needed for the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS).
A maker of specialized medical devices, Poba Medical’s large antiseptic cleanroom within its 20,000-square-foot facility is an ideal location for TGen’s COVID-19 test kit assembly line, said Dr. David Engelthaler, Director of TGen North.
“As part of TGen’s efforts to test, trace and treat patients with COVID-19, our partnership with Poba Medical is a logistical no-brainer. We can literally walk across a parking lot to get the kits as they are produced,” Dr. Engelthaler said. “We are fortunate to have such a strong partnership with another Flagstaff biomedical company.”
A maker of catheters and thermoplastic balloons for a variety of interventional devices and surgical applications, Poba Medical realized that they had extra capacity in their cleanroom to accommodate TGen’s test kit assembly, and without hindering any of their other ongoing medical equipment manufacturing.
“Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, our Poba Medical team became aware of TGen’s efforts to develop test kits in response to the pandemic, and we wanted to make sure that we contributed to the cause in the best way that our company could,” said Cristian Montanez, Poba Medical’s Senior Operations Manager.
“Poba’s ability to assemble the test kits for TGen advances the overall effort to produce thousands of units quickly, and potentially save more lives,” Montanez said.
TGen provides the contents of the test kits, including swabs, tubes and medium to stabilize the samples until they can be analyzed. They are then assembled into test kits in Poba Medical’s cleanroom assembly lines.
“We are in constant contact with all of our partners across Arizona, and we can now ship these tests kits wherever needed, and whenever needed,” Dr. Engelthaler said. Couriers return boxes of completed test kits for TGen to analyze, and those boxes are then refilled by Poba Medical with new test kits so they can be sent out again to TGen’s medical service partners.
To date, TGen has analyzed more than 15,000 COVID-19 samples, and continues to ramp up its testing capacities.
Poba Medical, which opened in Flagstaff in January 2019, serves a range of global customers, from startups to large multi-national companies. TGen is its only COVID-19 test kit assembly customer. Please see a video of test kits as they are assembled: https://youtu.be/qQV4Hu6JIPA
About TGen, an affiliate of City of Hope
Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a Phoenix, Arizona-based non-profit organization dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life-changing results. TGen is affiliated with City of Hope, a world-renowned independent research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases: www.cityofhope.org. This precision medicine affiliation enables both institutes to complement each other in research and patient care, with City of Hope providing a significant clinical setting to advance scientific discoveries made by TGen. TGen is focused on helping patients with neurological disorders, cancer, diabetes and infectious diseases through cutting-edge translational research (the process of rapidly moving research toward patient benefit). TGen physicians and scientists work to unravel the genetic components of both common and complex rare diseases in adults and children. Working with collaborators in the scientific and medical communities worldwide, TGen makes a substantial contribution to help our patients through efficiency and effectiveness of the translational process. For more information, visit: www.tgen.org. Follow TGen on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter @TGen.
TGen Senior Science Writer