As an independent medical biology laboratory founded in 1959, Laboratoires Réunis quickly found itself in the front line when the Covid pandemic began. The company is directly responsible for the technical implementation of large-scale screening tests carried out at national level.
Laboratoires Réunis performs all PCR testing using pooling to reduce costs and expenditure on reagents and consumables in a situation where supply is difficult.
This responsibility naturally required a major change in the way it operates. “It started with a reorganisation of our sampling services right through to production on our technical platform,” explains Prof. Dr. Med. Bernard Weber, CEO of Laboratoires Réunis Luxembourg. “This was done in the face of supply difficulties, either for PCR reagents, consumables (smears, gloves and protective equipment, etc.) or equipment (PCR thermal cyclers, robots, etc.). The situation was also very stretched in terms of human resources.”
Very much at the forefront of process digitalisation, Laboratoires Réunis had to accelerate a number of developments given the COVID-19 situation.. The company had already developed expert systems as an aid to interpretation, especially in the field of personalised medicine. “The crisis acted as a catalyst, especially in the development of a new laboratory management software called ‘Laboratory information system’ – LIS,” explains Mr. Weber. “This was necessary to be able to manage the very large amount of data that is generated in Large Scale Testing.”
This data is also essential for the smooth running of the project: identification of patients and tubes, traceability of the various stages of the pre-analytical, analytical and post-analytical processes.
A favourable ecosystem
The events of the last 12 months have completely changed the way people live, as well as the fundamentals of companies. And in Mr Weber’s view, the post-Covid era will be marked by a focus on prevention, especially since healthy people with a healthy lifestyle are less vulnerable to COVID-19 infection. “Research and especially the development of new technologies and IT digital health solutions will remain a priority for us.
To achieve this, Laboratoires Réunis can rely on a booming HealthTech sector in Luxembourg, driven by a real dynamic supported by the public authorities.
“Our ecosystem is very favourable to R&D activities, with a strong network of national partners. In addition, there are public financial resources that can be made available to innovative companies and start-ups.”
The example of Laboratoires Réunis shows the extent to which medical biology is undergoing an accelerated revolution and is moving even further towards industrialisation. “Of course, this did not start with COVID-19 and innovation is still at the heart of the sector,” observes Jean-Philippe Arié, manager of the Luxembourg HealtTech Cluster at Luxinnovation. “One particularity is the variety of jobs in these laboratories: they work with patient data, traditional biochemistry, sample logistics, robotic analysis lines, etc. Of course, digitalisation is everywhere in these subjects, well beyond the application with which the patient can access his results. This digital innovation is one of the hearts of Luxinnovation’s strategy and of the Luxembourg economy.”