HIGHLY qualified Cancer Research UK volunteers are testing thousands of patient samples each day for coronavirus at the new Lighthouse Lab at Alderley Park, led by Medicines Discovery Catapult.

Scientists from Cancer Research UK’s Manchester Institute, part of the University of Manchester, are part of about 30 Cancer Research UK volunteers working alongside industry partners at the mega-lab.

The volunteers are involved in part of the testing process – including debagging nose and throat swabs delivered daily from across the UK, extracting genetic material from the samples, and running tests which identify presence of the Covid-19 virus.

With many laboratories shut down for the time being Cancer Research UK scientists are volunteering their expertise to the national and global effort to beat Covid-19.

Isabelle Thompson – a scientific officer at Cancer Research UK’s Manchester Institute, said: “As scientists, we have a really important part to play in the fight against the coronavirus, and I’m proud to be a part of the work at Alderley Park.

“As soon as I heard about the opportunity to volunteer, I knew I had to sign up straight away.

“I’m normally based at Alderley Park so, while our labs on site are temporarily closed, this a great opportunity to come together with industry and academic volunteers from across the site in one big collective effort. Everyone is really supportive of one another and the morale feels really positive.”

Professor Peter Simpson, Chief Scientific Officer, Medicines Discovery Catapult and Director, Alderley Park Lighthouse Lab, said: “The Alderley Park Lighthouse Lab has been set up at an unprecedented pace and scale to respond to an urgent national need.

“This would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of all the scientific volunteers from research charities, universities, and industry, who have stepped forward to collaborate and utilise their skills in the fight against Covid-19.

The volunteers from Cancer Research UK have been instrumental in progressing testing, and we can’t thank them enough for their continued commitment.”

The Lighthouse Lab at Alderley Park is part of the biggest network of diagnostic testing facilities in British history, testing coronavirus samples from drive-through test sites across the country. Similar mega-labs have been set up in Glasgow and Milton Keynes.

As well as volunteers, Cancer Research UK has also loaned specialist equipment to the Alderley Park Lighthouse Lab.