ULiège: the creation of a new reagent goes round the world


A few days ago, the University of Liège announced the development of a screening technique based on a new reagent, capable of testing coronavirus faster and cheaper. The news soon spread round the world. Today, more and more countries are addressing the Belgian university in the hope of overcoming the lack of reagents.

The collaboration between the nine best researchers at ULiège (chemists from GreenMat as well as molecular biologists from GIGA and FARAH), has produced the expected results. The stroke of genius? Anticipation. Fabrice Bureau, biochemist and molecular biologist at the veterinary faculty of ULiège, explains: 'We told ourselves at the beginning that products were going to be in short supply and that we had to work quickly. The chains of synthesis of the reagents were not started on time by the others. So we are ahead of the game". Thanks to anticipation, it is now possible to test 10,000 to 20,000 people a day in Belgium and even more around the world more quickly.

A fundamental step in the development of this new screening technique was magnetisation. To magnetize the genetic record of the virus, the association between the mineral world on the one hand and the living world on the other, through magnetic microbeads coated with silica, proved to be a winning combination. It is thanks to the support of the KUL reference centre that the discovery of the University of Liège could be validated: the researchers of the reference centre have indeed obtained a reliability of 95%, which allowed the authorization of use. Since then, the Belgian government has ordered the production of 40 to 50,000 reagents per day to supply the five Belgian pharmaceutical laboratories that own the machines: UCB, GSK, Janssen, KUL and ULiège.

In just two days, the University of Liège was overwhelmed by the international demand for the reagents developed in the Liège laboratories, which are essential for the operation of the automated testing machines. "Sweden, Germany, Estonia, Senegal, Peru... it does not stop.... We won't be able to produce for everyone. But we'll be able to give them the recipe after we've patented our find, because there are already sharks who want to buy it from us. " confirms Fabrice Bureau.