Newswise — Answering the growing need for additional testing, and in direct response to shortages encountered in testing kit supply pipelines, the Coriell Institute for Medical Research is now offering services to create viral testing collection tubes containing different media and/or buffer formulations, for use in COVID-19 testing kits. Coriell is also exploring the feasibility of saliva as a means for testing for the new coronavirus.

These new media and buffer products in Coriell’s lineup, one of which is created to Center for Disease Control and Prevention standard specifications (viral transport media), have been proven effective through validation testing conducted by the Cooper University Health Care. Cooper is leading the COVID-19 response in southern New Jersey and operates a testing collection site in Cherry Hill, as well as sites in Camden City and Deptford, Gloucester County in collaboration with other local health systems.

“We jumped into action the moment we heard from our friends at Cooper that the media in the testing kits was a choke point for their COVID-19 testing plan,” said Jean-Pierre Issa, MD, Coriell’s Chief Executive Officer. “We have a flexible and talented production laboratory and scientists who are world class experts at cell culture, which is inherently dependent on custom media preparations. This challenging time calls on all of us to pitch in wherever possible and we are proud to be able to fulfill this vital need.”

Coriell has created testing collection tubes containing a buffered salt solution as well as the CDC viral transport media, both of which have proven efficacious in downstream diagnostic screening of the virus. These buffer or media preparations are used when a nasopharyngeal (nose) or throat swab test is administered. After swiping a person’s sinus or throat cavity, the swab is placed in a container with one of these solutions, which preserve the virus for testing. Right now, Coriell has the capacity to produce many liters of these solutions and can create over one thousand collection tubes each day, with the potential to increase production should there be demand.

“Our laboratories are well positioned to quickly produce and aliquot large volumes of these media and/or buffer preparations,” said Nahid Turan, PhD, Coriell’s Chief Biobanking Officer. “Testing for the new coronavirus is critically important right now and will remain so for many months. We hope this new supply of testing tubes will ensure public health professionals have what they need to track and fight this virus.”

Coriell has also teamed up with other partners including Cooper University Health Care and a regional diagnostic laboratory to provide them with Coriell’s COVID-19 saliva testing kits, to perform validation studies alongside approved nasopharyngeal test kits to help authenticate the saliva test Coriell is developing. The current nasal swab tests can be invasive for the tested individuals and a saliva test would be more efficient in both cost and time. Importantly, once validated, this method of testing would entirely remove the uncomfortable nasal swab to screen for the presence of the virus, and also provide another source of testing kits which would help alleviate the bottlenecks to testing currently being experienced.

About the Coriell Institute for Medical Research

Founded in 1953, the Coriell Institute for Medical Research is a nonprofit research institute dedicated to improving human health through biomedical research. Coriell scientists lead research in personalized medicine, cancer biology, epigenetics, and the genomics of opioid use disorder. Coriell also hosts one of the world's leading biobanks—comprised of collections for the National Institutes of Health, disease foundations and private clients—and distributes biological samples and offers research and biobanking services to scientists around the globe. To facilitate drug discovery and disease study, the Institute also develops and distributes collections of induced pluripotent stem cells. For more information, visit