Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT)

Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT)

The NAT laboratory was established in the IBTS in 2004 and provides critical screening of all Irish blood donations to help ensure the safety of a sustainable blood supply to patients. 

The laboratory has always been proactive to implement new instruments and assays to improve the safety of the blood supply and it is crucial that we can react quickly and effectively to emerging pathogens and threats to the provision of the blood supply.

The NAT laboratory is responsible for screening all Irish blood donations for:

  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) type 1 and 2 RNA
  • Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) RNA
  • Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) DNA
  • Hepatitis E Virus (HEV) RNA

Selected donations are also screened for West Nile Virus (WNV) RNA seasonally.

The laboratory also tests additional samples from, for example; stem cell donors, bone marrow donors, heart valve tissue donors and samples from recipient tracing testing programmes.

We also maintain an archive of samples from all donors. These samples can be retrieved for trace-back or look-back testing if required, or for investigation and research purposes.


Panther Testing System (Grifols)

All testing is performed individually (ID-NAT) using the fully automated Panther testing system (Grifols) with the Procelix Ultrio Elite, HEV and WNV assays. NAT can detect very low levels of the viral RNA or DNA during the early stages of infection. All screening is performed using plasma samples.


Research & Publications

We encourage our team to contributes to many different research projects and events throughout their career.  Most recently, we published our findings on donor bloodborne disease screening.

Contact Information


Chief Medical Scientist: Lisa Burke


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