BUSINESSES have joined the battle against coronavirus by applying their expertise to everything from technologies to improve virus detection to increasing production of vital personal protective equipment (PPE).

While many companies have been forced to shut down to contain the pandemic, six County Durham firms are continuing to work on specialist products and technologies in a bid to limit contagion and protect frontline NHS workers.

Four of the businesses are based at the North East Technology Park (NETPark) in Sedgefield, they are Reprocell Europe, Graphene Composites, Stream Bio and Kromek.

Reprocell Europe, who specialise in leading-edge tools and products for stem cell and 3D cell culture research, have joined a consortium with partners in North America and Europe to develop a vaccine for Covid-19.

Dr David Bunton, chief executive of the firm said: “We are pleased to support an international consortium, led by the Belgian life sciences company eTheRNA, which is developing an RNA-based vaccine.”

Nano-technology manufacturer Graphene Composites has been working on a graphene ink that can be applied to face masks and other personal protective equipment as a viricide (virus killing) to provide added protection against coronavirus.

Following an appeal for help from other companies with the project the company has already received a number of offers.

Stream Bio Ltd, which is based at the Centre for Process Innovation's (CPI) within NETPark, develops and manufactures fluoroscent molecular probes used for labelling antibodies.

The probes increasing the sensitivity of antibody testing, enabling earlier detection.

It is hoped that Stream Bio's probes can be used in the fight against Covid-19.

Biotechnology firm Kromek Group, also based at the site, is recruiting a project engineer to work on the development of a mobile pathogen detection system, to detect biological threats, such as Covid-19.

Janet Todd, NETPark manager at Business Durham, said: “It’s great to see that NETPark companies are looking at innovative ways to fight Covid-19 and proactively seeking out collaborative opportunities. We wish them well as they work to combat Covid-19.”