Dallas-based GeneIQ, a molecular diagnostics laboratory, has pivoted, like many businesses nationwide, to address the continuing COVID-19 pandemic—and the move has bolstered a major expansion.
GeneIQ was founded to focus on Pharmacogenomic (PGx) and infectious disease testing for respiratory and urinary pathogens. Located in The Colony, its state-of-the-art lab provides a multifaceted testing portfolio that enables a highly efficient, automated process.
The company touts its web-based system, which provides 24-hour turnaround time for results that are said to accurately identify 97 percent sensitivity if a virus is present and 99.9 percent specificity if it isn’t.
But, with the onslaught of the pandemic, GeneIQ decided to recalibrate this spring to solely focus on providing a non-invasive—yet highly accurate, it says—test for COVID-19. With that, GeneIQ added more than 50 new jobs to its DFW-based lab, tripled its instrument fleet, and bolstered its capabilities to test 10,000 people a day.
According to CEO and Founder Frank Howard, it was an easy choice. GeneIQ was already using PCR technology (polymerase chain reaction), so the team knew it was readily equipped to help.
“We recognized the need not only for more testing in Texas, but for quicker turnaround times of results,” Howard said. “A test that takes more than a few days to get results is practically useless, as a patient’s status can change in that amount of time. Our agile team repurposed our infrastructure so that we could allocate all of our resources towards testing for the virus. Our unrivaled turnaround times have differentiated us from the rest, and I’m very proud of that.”
But, the transition was met with some apprehension with so many employees concerned about the uncertainty of COVID-19. Howard says GeneIQ provided education, personal protection equipment, and testing to all staff members to maintain a safe environment.
“First and foremost, we have to protect our employees. Many of them have children or elderly parents, and we don’t want them to be scared to come to work,” he says. Our logistics services and partnerships with facilities who serve as our boots on the ground have helped us provide and collect samples so that our employees don’t have to enter hotspots.”
Now, the company provides COVID-19 testing to thousands nationwide.
GeneIQ’s sample collection method involves a non-invasive nasal swab. It’s inserted half an inch into the nasal cavity, rotated along the anterior membrane of each nostril, then placed in a collection tube for transport to the lab. But, the GeneIQ COVID-19 test is self-administered.
The company says its methodolgy is just as effective as the physician-administered nasopharyngeal method, and there’s no pain or discomfort. Self-administered collections are also safer for a healthcare provider, as they can maintain social distancing.
“We were one of the first labs to utilize this dry assay,” Dr. Tariq Adwan, GeneIQ’s chief scientific officer, said in a release. “We realized the benefits of providing a non-invasive swab that is also highly accurate. We currently provide results within 24 hours, with an average turnaround time between 15 and 17 hours.”
Today, GeneIQ is serving more than 500 long-term care facilities across the country, in addition to medical practices, small businesses, state and local municipalities, and corporations. That’s a large jump from its abilities in May, when the company could only test 5,000 people per month.
Most recently, Howard and his team signed an agreement with Maricopa County in Arizona to provide testing to the more than 4.5 million citizens there. It’s one of many large partnerships in the pipeline, according to Howard.
And though a vaccine could be coming, they plan to continue the course.
“We’re in the sixth inning of the pandemic but will continue to add instruments and expand our portfolio as we prepare for steady-state service for our existing clientele. As COVID dissipates, our long-term care clients will depend on us for our other infectious disease tests, but in the meantime, we will continue to address the pandemic head on,” he says. “Together we will continue to fight the war on COVID.”
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