BIOCEV and DIANA Biotechnologies help companies protect their employees against COVID-19 with the most reliable tests
Services — 04.05.2021

Gene Core – Quantitative and digital PCR

BIOCEV and DIANA Biotechnologies help companies protect their employees against COVID-19 with the most reliable tests

The Institute of Biotechnology of the Czech Academy of Sciences located in the BIOCEV Centre, together with the Faculty of Nature, Charles University, offers regular SARS-CoV-2 testing for businesses. The test analyses a saliva sample using the PCR technology (testing for the direct presence of a virus’s genetic code in a sample) using certified test kits supplied by the Czech company DIANA Biotechnologies.

It is the most sensitive method of detection that does not require an unpleasant nasopharyngeal swab. It is very gentle and provides precise and reliable results. In terms of price, the PCR testing at BIOCEV is comparable to certain antigen tests. Moreover, an employee with a positive test result does not have to undergo the lengthy process of obtaining an electronic request form from his/her physician and take another PCR test. This also helps to eliminate the risk of spreading the infection to more people.

“Out of 2,000 antigen tests, only two cases were positive (0.1%). Reference testing focused on the highest-risk sub-group of 330 employees, and using the PCR saliva screening method showed 3.6% positive cases. The approach developed by DIANA Biotechnologies quickly provides a realistic picture of the overall situation and enables the timely isolation of infected individuals. In addition to its greater sensitivity and less invasive self-collection technique of using saliva sample, another great advantage of this method is the sample’s stability for 72 hours. This enables sampling in a three-shift operation using a rotation. The small dimensions of the sample container and the carousel system of sample organization makes the storage and transportation of hundreds of samples easier. The high efficiency of the testing is further enhanced by standard QR codes and their being matched with 2D scanners. The costs associated with the timely detection and isolation of one infected person are more economically advantageous than other blanket measures and stricter production restrictions. The results of the PCR testing method provides assurance that BIOCEV and DIANA Biotechnologies are a trusted partner in the fight against COVID-19, as our highest priority is the protection of our employees and an uninterrupted delivery of medicines,” says Pavel Šebek, Head of Research, ZENTIVA. ZENTIVA is one of the ten companies and institutions that have decided to pursue a more effective fight against the pandemic and send their samples to the BIOCEV centre.

The costs of PCR testing have been significantly decreased thanks to several factors. First and foremost, these savings are related to the self-sampling and sample registration performed by employees with the help of a reader and a code located on the bottom of the test tube. Researchers can also rely on the help of robotics, which eliminates demanding manual RNA isolation. At several dozens of samples a week, the price is CZK 400 per sample. Test results are available via a text message in just 3 to 6 hours. Another advantage is the possibility to obtain a certificate for business trips abroad.

“I am very happy that BIOCEV based its high-capacity testing on our technology. The PCR saliva tests developed by us are more pleasant, easier and faster compared to PCR tests taken by a nasopharyngeal swab. And what is more, experience has shown us that they are even more sensitive. This makes the test ideal for regular testing in hospitals, businesses and schools, where they help to prevent the spread of the disease among groups. The key advantage is that we developed and manufacture the tests in the Czech Republic, and we do not have to rely on foreign suppliers. If there is enough demand for PCR saliva tests, in a few weeks we can be ready to produce two million tests per month,” says Václav Navrátil, CEO and Head of Research, DIANA Biotechnologies.

PCR testing is also supported by Ruth Tachezy, a virologist from the Faculty of Science, Charles University, on behalf of BIOCEV: “Antigen tests are not suitable for the blanket testing of asymptomatic people. Antigen tests can be used where PCR testing capacity is not sufficient, but certain basic conditions must be observed. It is important to select quality (validated) tests, collect the samples correctly and perform testing in a standardized manner. Last but not least, the test must be repeated within 3 days,“ Ruth Tachezy explains and continues: “Unlike PCR, antigen tests usually show less accurate results in self-sampling. With PCR tests, it is possible to process a large number of samples quickly and reliably; at the same time, it is possible to detect virus mutations and reliably combine this method with a number of self-sampling methods. With PCR tests, bulk testing can be performed at 7-10 day intervals. This method is especially suitable for examining children, who bear a smaller viral load and for whom the traditional nasopharyngeal swab is too intrusive.”

BIOCEV (The Biotechnology and Biomedicine Centre of the Czech Academy of Science and Charles University in Vestec) is a European centre of excellence. Its objective is to conduct research in biotechnology and biomedicine at the international level. Thanks to the unique connection between research programmes and projects supported by a robust research infrastructure, and with its size and the complementarity of its research programmes, BIOCEV has been able to respond to global challenges and has combined the collaboration among its research teams with leading research organisations and European research infrastructures.

BIOCEV integrates its research projects and creates interdisciplinary approaches. It promotes cooperation between departments of the Czech Academy of Sciences (the Institute of Molecular Genetics, the Institute of Biotechnology, the Institute of Microbiology, the Institute of Physiology, the Institute of Experimental Medicine, and the Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry) and Charles University. (The First Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Science). BIOCEV sets conditions for the establishment of new groups and supports the internationalization of the research environment. In this respect, BIOCEV helps to create not only stable conditions for the long-term development of quality research centres in the Czech Republic, but also contributes to the socio-economic development of the Czech Republic.

DIANA Biotechnologies is a Czech biotechnology company engaging in the research and development of drugs and highly sensitive diagnostic methods. It is the largest producers of PCR tests in the Czech Republic. Its technology has been used in more than 1.5 million PCR tests. Currently, it covers 25% of the PCR testing capacity. It was founded in 2018 and since then, it has been focused on developing applications based on the patented DIANA technology, which was invented by the company's CEO and Head of Research, Václav Navrátil, during his work at the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry at the Academy of Sciences. COVID-19 PCR tests won first place in the Hack the Crisis competition organized by CzechInvest. The company has also received support from the Central Bohemian Innovation Centre (SIC), which helps the establishment and development of technology companies. However, the company's portfolio is significantly broader and through its products, they are aiming to enter world-wide markets. In addition to the development of new drugs and diagnostic methods for the detection of new biomarkers, DIANA Biotechnologies also focus on the development of monoclonal antibodies for diagnostics and therapy. The company relies on a team of leading researchers with unique expertise in molecular biology, biochemistry, organic and medicinal chemistry, pharmacology and laboratory automation. The objective of DIANA Biotechnologies is to become a multinational biotechnology company developing its own original medicines. For this purpose, the company acquired significant private investment capital at its inception. The company is based in Vestec u Prahy.

About Zentiva

Zentiva is a producer of affordable, high-quality medicines for European and non-European patients. With more than 4,500 employees and a network of manufacturing plants (including its flagships in Prague, Bucharest, and Ankleshwar), our goal is to become a leader in branded and generic medicines in Europe and satisfy the day-to-day needs of all healthcare professionals. . At Zentiva, we believe that healthcare should be a right, not a privilege. Today, more than ever, people need better access to affordable, high-quality medicines and adequate healthcare. Together with doctors, pharmacists, wholesalers, regulators and the state administration, we provide everyday solutions that form the basis of quality healthcare that is indispensable to modern society. For more information about Zentiva, please see