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. 2020 May 19;jclinpath-2020-206711.
doi: 10.1136/jclinpath-2020-206711. Online ahead of print.

Predictive Molecular Pathology in the Time of COVID-19

Free PMC article

Predictive Molecular Pathology in the Time of COVID-19

Umberto Malapelle et al. J Clin Pathol. .
Free PMC article


Aims: In the time of COVID-19, predictive molecular pathology laboratories must still timely select oncological patients for targeted treatments. However, the need to respect social distancing measures may delay results generated by laboratory-developed tests based on sequential steps a long hands-on time. Laboratory workflows should now be simplified.

Methods: The organisation of the University of Naples Federico II predictive pathology laboratory was assessed before (March-April 2019) and during (March-April 2020) the Italian lockdown.

Results: The number of patients undergoing single or multiple biomarker testing was similar in 2019 (n=43) and in 2020 (n=45). Considering adequate samples for molecular testing, before the outbreak, next-generation sequencing was mostly used (35/42, 83.3%). Testing six genes had a reagent cost of €98/patient. Conversely, in 2020, almost all cases (38/41, 92.7%) were analysed by automated testing. This latter had for any single assay/gene a significant reagent cost (€95-€136) and a faster mean turnaround time (5.3 vs 7.9 working days).

Conclusion: In the times of coronavirus, laboratory fully automated platforms simplify predictive molecular testing. Laboratory staff may be more safely and cost-effectively managed.

Keywords: laboratory personnel; medical oncology; pathology, molecular.

Conflict of interest statement

Competing interests: UM reports personal fees (as speaker bureau or advisor) from Boehringer Ingelheim, AstraZeneca, Roche, MSD, Amgen, Merck and BMS. GT reports personal fees (as speaker bureau or advisor) from Roche, MSD and Pfizer.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Molecular biology technologies pre-COVID-19 and during the COVID-19 outspread. With respect to 2019, during the COVID-19 outbreak, almost all cases were analysed by automated testing (Idylla), with a reduction of turnaround time (5.3 vs 7.9 working days). NGS, next-generation sequencing; TAT, turnaround time.

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