OSU Wexner Medical Center creates, shares viral transport media

April 13, 2020

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved solutions created by scientists at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center that both expand and accelerate COVID-19 testing across Ohio, the medical center announced in a news release.

Health systems worldwide have struggled because of the critical shortage of test kit components, including the swabs used to collect samples and the sterile solution needed to transport the swabs. The testing kits include the swabs and vials filled with a viral transport media (VTM).

Recognizing the threat, a rapidly assembled team of Ohio State researchers worked overnight and, within 24 hours, created an in house “recipe” to make the crucial VTM. Essentially, it’s a salt solution buffered in the way necessary to stabilize the virus.

Each test kit uses about 3ml (about one tablespoon) of VTM. Ohio State has created more than 100 liters of VTM, which is enough for up to 30,000 test kits. Ohio State continues to use commercially produced VTM when it is available, but it’s unfortunately still in short supply.

In addition, the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, working with faculty and staff in the university’s colleges of Engineering and Dentistry, have created and 3-D printed more than 50,000 new swabs for COVID-19 test kits that will be shared with hospitals across Ohio.

Researcher Jacob Yount found a World Health Organization recipe that he and other researchers were able to re-create in a lab at Ohio State’s Biomedical Research Tower. Yount’s research team shared the VTM with the pathology department for quality-control testing and the pharmacy team for packaging in sterile tubes. The supply chain department distributed these to the testing sites and emergency departments for use.

Visit Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center for more news