Guardtech refurbishes modular COVID-19 testing BSL2 lab into CL3 lab

Published: 14-Feb-2024

Guardtech has innovated a new use for its portable cleanrooms to potentially provide a solution to refurbishing existing laboratories or building new facilities

Guardtech, a UK-based cleanroom construction company, has been providing its portable CleanCube Mobile Cleanroom solutions for clients across the globe for more than three years.

Only towards the end of 2023 did the company discover just how critical its innovative plug-and-play container labs could be for businesses looking to increase their Containment Level 3 (CL3) provision.

Cambridge Clinical Laboratories CEO, Tony Cooke, has deployed a refurbished CleanCube Midi CL3 lab for his company’s vital diagnostics testing.

This is an entirely new process from what we’ve done previously in the lab 

The unit was previously utilised as a BSL2 for COVID-19 PCR testing, but the Guardtech Group, led by CleanCube Manufacturing Manager Michael Burton, reworked the layout as per Cooke’s instructions and upgraded it internally to meet the higher CL3 classification.

“The CleanCube is up and running and we’ve been approved by the government Health & Safety Executive (HSE) to use it. We’re developing a novel tuberculosis test and now have our first samples in place. This is an entirely new process from what we’ve done previously in the lab and part of it needs to be conducted in a Category 3 containment suite. We’ve worked on bovine TB before (BCG), but we haven’t required the higher level of containment for the non-human strains,” Cooke added. 

Cooke and his team considered redeveloping their own existing premises, but the prospect of adding thicker concrete floors and other major renovation works led him to considering CleanCube as an ideal alternative. 

The layout was reworked and upgraded internally from BSL2 to meet the higher CL3 classification

The unit now sits proudly alongside Cambridge Clinical’s host building, where it was adeptly squeezed into the only slither of tight space that the lab had available by the diligent CleanCube team.

“We couldn’t adapt our building and we were short of space, plus the lead times for CleanCube were relatively small compared to any work we might’ve considered having done on our building – and it’s cheaper. It was a lot more convenient than any other option in the market. We had really tight timescales and we’re in a rented building – so we’d have had to get landlord’s permission and go through all the planning consent. This is just so much quicker,” Cook explained. 

What’s more, the rapid container lab also brings the promise of new business ventures that Cooke and his team would otherwise have had to wait far longer to explore.

Having CleanCube opens up new opportunities for us

“Having CleanCube opens up new opportunities for us – beyond just working on TB. We can now deal with influenza, new malaria risks, anything that requires that higher level of containment. As a result, we’ve increased our security,” Cooke said.

Cooke believes the CleanCube concept, and all the benefits it brings, could revolutionise the future of containment lab construction.

“Our lease runs out in 2025 and we’re not planning to move, but if we had to for whatever reason, we can simply take the CleanCube with us to a new facility. It gives us an amazing amount of flexibility,” Cooke concluded. 

Photo credit: Elodie Giuge Photography

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