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Predictive molecular pathology in the time of COVID-19


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.

  • pathology, molecular
  • medical oncology
  • laboratory personnel

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request to the corresponding author.

This article is made freely available for use in accordance with BMJ’s website terms and conditions for the duration of the covid-19 pandemic or until otherwise determined by BMJ. You may use, download and print the article for any lawful, non-commercial purpose (including text and data mining) provided that all copyright notices and trade marks are retained.

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