This Filipina Is Leading The COVID-19 Testing Technology In Switzerland

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The COVID-19 has caused each individual to highlight and enjoy the simple joys that life brings. Whether it is getting food from a restaurant you used to frequent, funny Tiktoks, or even that a Pinay’s technology is triumph during the world’s fight against the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Catharine Aquino-Fournier is currently based in Switzerland. She is a group leader at Functional Genomic Center Zurich which is a core part of the University of Zurich and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.

She is a graduate of the University of the Philippines Los Baños and graduated in 1996 with a major in Biology. She then took her master’s degree in Genetics and graduated in 2003.

She is the group leader of the application of a technology called HiDRA-seq. This technology can detect novel coronavirus using a DNA sequencing technology called Next Generation Sequencing (NGS).

Next-Generation Sequencing is used to determine the DNA sequence of a cell or organism. It only takes a matter of hours to study and analyze billions of fragments when using NGS.

Catharine Aquino-Fournier herself said that the HiDRA-seq method is similar to the real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (rRT–PCR). rRT-PCR is ideal for COVID-19 testing because it can count how many particles of the virus are present in the sample being analyzed.

The main difference between HiDRA-seq and rRT-PCR is the process of extracting genetic materials. Catharine Aquino-Fournier shared that they developed HiDRA-seq intending to skip extraction processes because it decreases the processing time. HiDRA-seq also has a function included that can trace from whom and where the virus was received. The technology not only determines if there if a genetic sequence of the virus is infected but they are also sequenced which helps trace scientists understand the origin of the virus as well as infection chains. Aquino-Fournier shared that their technology is not perfect it has a 10% chance of yielding false results.

As days pass and fear of the pandemic increases, Filipinos all over are wishing Catharine Aquino-Fournier and her team luck in the challenges before them.

Photo Credit: uplb.edu.ph