January 19, 2021

ARUP researchers are using genetic sequencing to identify variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

SALT LAKE CITY– ARUP Laboratories, a major provider of COVID-19 molecular diagnostic testing in Utah and nationwide, today announced that it is sequencing variants of SARS-CoV-2 in specimens positive for COVID-19 to enable detection of the more contagious “United Kingdom (UK) variant” of the virus.

ARUP’s announcement came after the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) on January 15, 2021, said that a Salt Lake County man had been found to have the so-called “UK,” or B.1.1.7 variant, which so far has been detected in 20 states. The first known case of the variant in Utah, it was identified by the UDOH Public Health Laboratory, which since early in the pandemic has been sequencing a percentage of specimens positive for COVID-19 as part of an effort in which ARUP is collaborating.

Independently, ARUP has begun sequencing all specimens identified as positive for SARS-CoV-2 through molecular testing on one of three platforms it uses to test for the virus. ARUP, which offers a full menu of COVID-19 testing for hospital and health system clients nationwide, does not release sequencing variant information for individual patients. Rather, sequencing is performed for epidemiologic purposes and to monitor and, if necessary, improve the performance of the tests used to diagnose COVID-19.

“Our sequencing research seeks to characterize not just the UK variant, but other circulating strains of SARS-CoV-2, so that we may continue to develop accurate tests for the virus,” said Adam Barker, PhD, director of the ARUP Institute for Clinical and Experimental Pathology.

The UK variant is known to contain a mutation of the spike protein, or S gene, which one of ARUP’s tests uses as a target for SARS-CoV-2 identification, along with two other genes. Read more about ARUP’s tests and about how ARUP is sequencing variants here.

Genetic sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 variants for research and epidemiologic purposes is a good example of ARUP’s unique ability to offer vital testing while also contributing to scientific advancement, thanks to its affiliation with the University of Utah (U of U). ARUP is a not-for-profit enterprise of the U of U School of Medicine and its Department of Pathology, and Barker and all ARUP medical directors are also U of U faculty members.

“Our work to help advance laboratory medicine and improve patient care is at the heart of what we do at ARUP,” said CEO Sherrie L. Perkins, MD, PhD. “As this public health crisis persists, our commitment is stronger than ever.”

More information about ARUP’s COVID-19 test menu and about other COVID-19-related research in which ARUP is involved is available at aruplab.com.

About ARUP Laboratories

Founded in 1984, ARUP Laboratories is a leading national reference laboratory and a nonprofit enterprise of the University of Utah and its Department of Pathology. ARUP offers more than 3,000 tests and test combinations, ranging from routine screening tests to esoteric molecular and genetic assays. ARUP serves clients across the United States, including many of the nation’s top university teaching hospitals and children’s hospitals, as well as multihospital groups, major commercial laboratories, group purchasing organizations, military and other government facilities, and major clinics. In addition, ARUP is a worldwide leader in innovative laboratory research and development, led by the efforts of the ARUP Institute for Clinical and Experimental Pathology®. ARUP is ISO 15189 CAP accredited.

Media Contact
ARUP: Lisa Carricaburu, lisa.carricaburu@aruplab.com, 801-541-5041