Molecular Biology Clinical Researc​​h Unit 

 

Services and Research Models Offered

Our laboratory services are world class with custom designed laboratory management systems to allow us to conduct laboratory tests under strict quality control systems, to ensure appropriate standards and requirements for drug/vaccine testing, biomarker discovery, clinical trial management and routine diagnostics.

The services provided by the Immunology Research Group Laboratory (IRGL) include routine sample processing and tests, sophisticated immunological assays, development of specialized immunological research tools, with the aim of providing industry specific applications based on world recognised scientific practices (refer to Laboratory Test below).

We also provide consultation on appropriate assay-specific specimen collection strategies, specimen management (including its storage, transport, safety and ultimate disposal), performance of tests on the specimen, results, interpretation and laboratory management. 

Laboratory Tests

  • Nucleic acid extraction (RNA, DNA)
  • Isolation and cryopreservation of viable peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs)
  • Interferon Gamma Release Assays (TSpot, Quantiferon)
  • Flow cytometry services, 4 to 12 colour immunophenotyping,
  • Infectious sorting of cell populations in BSL3
  • Immunomagnetic bead isolation of untouched cell populations for functional studies
  • Immunophenotyping of whole blood or cells for: Innate and adaptive cell frequencies and subsets, including maturation, trafficking, activation, proliferation and chemokine and cytokine expression
  • Laser Dissection Microscope & Fluorescence microscopy
  • Evaluation of cytokines and chemokines by ELISA and multiplexed bead array using Luminex
  • Gene expression analysis for real-time PCR assays
  • Bioenergetic analyses, immune metabolic profiling using the Seahorse XFp analyser.

Client/Project Support and Management

  • Administration and design of testing protocols & reports
  • Documentation of Standard Operating Procesures (SOPs) and Quality Procedures
  • Database design and capture using RedCap and LDMS
  • Electronic data transfer and storage
  • Data interpretation and management
  • Training

Biorepository for Sample Storage

The IRGL provide controlled storage conditions with space for various biological samples collected during clinical trials, field studies or individual research projects, to facilitate retrospective analyses. You can trust the IRGL biorepository to preserve the integrity of your samples, even for long term storage at 4⁰C, -80⁰C or liquid nitrogen. Viability tests are routinely performed to ensure the highest standard of sample storage and retrieval. Our database also facilitates routine sample tracking, labeling, randomization, anonymization or unblinding of stored samples.

Samples stored include sputum, urine, cells, plasma, serum, CSF, culture supernatants, nucleic acids and other biological samples.

Molecular Biology Clinical Research Unit

The Stellenbosch University Molecular Biology Clinical Research Unit is an academic multi-disciplinary team of doctors, nurses, assistants, QA and coordinating personnel, led by Dr Stephanus Malherbe, chief medical officer of the unit. We perform the clinical operations for Tuberculosis Biomarker and Immunology research. We work closely with several research laboratories within the Division, such as the Immunology Research Group, which has been active in this field of research since 2002. Our medical staff are all approved for clinical trials research by the Medicines Control Council as well as the SU Health Research Ethics Committee. All staff in the team are GCP certified.

For both clinical trials and observational studies, we offer study participant recruitment, screening, enrolment and follow-up, including the collection of a variety of protocol-specific samples at prescribed time-points and medical observation to ensure participant well-being and safety. We offer transport to and from our study site to trial participants for all study visits.

Samples we routinely collect include blood for various immunologic laboratory tests, urine, saliva, sputum and stool. We also work closely with other medical experts to collect samples such as broncho-alveolar lavage (BAL) fluid. Routine pregnancy testing and HIV counselling and testing form part of our services.

Our clinical activities also include the collection of a variety of data; some specialized, such as data from chest Xrays and PET/CT scans. Participants are taken to the relevant facilities by our drivers, to have these procedures done.

Bioinformatics: analyses of meta-data