Testing samples for coronavirus requires enzymes – proteins that perform a specialised task. The enzymes are needed to generate millions of copies of a tiny piece of the coronavirus genome in the lab, which would otherwise be too low in number to be detected in a sample. The Protein Expression and Purification Core Facility (PEPCF) at EMBL Heidelberg will produce these enzymes using bacteria as host organisms. This will allow colleagues at EMBL to develop new coronavirus testing methods. PEPCF will also provide proteins that are required for several other coronavirus-related research projects at EMBL, to assist the development of new strategies to fight the virus.
PEPCF helps scientists from EMBL and elsewhere to produce highly purified samples of the proteins they need for their research. The PEPCF team enables fundamental research projects and the development of new technologies, such as diagnostic methods for coronavirus or other pathogens, which require purified proteins. PEPCF also provides enzymes for virus testing that are currently not commercially available, and helps scientists to develop novel and more high-throughput methods, which allow many more samples to be analysed. This is particularly useful in situations such as the current coronavirus pandemic, when a large number of tests need to be carried out in a short period of time.