CONTAIN / Open Cell – Mobile COVID19 Emergency Testing Facilities

Open Cell


CONTAIN a decentralized and open-source approach for testing COVID19. OpenCell has developed mobile COVID-19 testing labs that can be placed at any location needed. Each container is equipped with 5 liquid handling robots and 2 qPCR machines and can provide results in as little as 5 hours. A single lab can be run by a single operator and can process 2,400 tests a day.
The testing involves a procedure called reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR). In short, it involves extracting viral RNA from a sample and amplifying it to a measurable level so that it is possible to see whether a person is infected with COVID-19. What differentiates OpenCell’s labs is the automated RNA extraction protocol using a magnetic-bead method which insulates OpenCell from some of the global demand on RNA extraction kits. Another main benefit of OpenCell’s project is that it is open-source. Over 150 volunteers worldwide contributed towards the challenges involved in developing testing capacity. The blueprints and protocols are available to everyone in form of a living document allowing people across the world to contribute and reproduce the project.


OpenCell London + worldwide contributors: Helene Steiner, Kenneth T. Walker, Matthew Donora, Thomas Meany, Anthony Thomas, Manoj Nathwani, Alexander James Philips, Krishma Ramgoolam, Kjara S Pilch, Phil Oberacker, Tomasz Piotr Jurkowski, Rares Marius Gosman, Aubin Fleiss, Alex Perkins, Neil MacKenzie, Davide Danovi

Open Cell (UK) is a lab space consisting of 70 shipping containers in London. OpenCell was founded in June 2018 to provide early-stage biotech startups with affordable lab-space. Laboratories here work on synthetic biology, CRISPR, DNA sequencing, therapeutics, biologics, hardware, bioelectronics, software, biomaterials, bioplastics, and more.