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Specialised services

Molecular R&D

Molecular Research and Development

The Molecular Research and Development Section provides support to the Specialised Laboratory Services (SLS) Department, by researching and developing current technologies and keeping abreast with the new advances in technology allows us to achieve the level of excellence and service provided by blood transfusion services worldwide.

A major part of molecular research and development is the evaluation of new reagents/techniques and platforms including next generation sequencing (NGS) suitable for the South African environment.

The formation of a Molecular Hub at both the Constantia Kloof and the new Mount Edgecombe (currently at Pinetown) premises will become a centralized area where molecular based processes will be optimized and developed in a state-of-art facility with multi-skilled cross functional staff. Fully automated, optimized and streamlined workflows will be implemented, research and publications of novel data will be encouraged, post-graduate studies will be supported in this field and collaborations both nationally and internationally will be initiated.


SANBS is a leader in offering state of the art genotyping technology for Human Leucocyte Antigen (HLA), Red Blood Cell (RBC) genetic analysis and human platelet antigen (HPA) characterisation. Through continuous development and innovations SANBS introduced red blood cell genotyping of 11 blood group systems in one test for high throughput genotyping and a fully automated real-time red cell genotyping assay for individual red cell genotyping of up to 13 blood groups including RHCE and RHD gene in one assay. The market will continued to be scanned for more cost-effective and cost-efficient procedures.


A major impact in testing became possible following the introduction of next generation sequencing (NGS) as HLA NGS tests revealed the uniqueness of the South African population and the need to characterize the various ethnic groups within South Africa.

HLA NGS provides high resolution HLA typing to improve the chances of finding more donor-recipient solid organ and bone marrow matches.


  1. Recent advances in technology allowed for the evaluation of an ABO next generation sequencing assay that followed HLA in highlighting the uniqueness of the South African population. In the pipeline is an evaluation of an RH NGS assay.
  2. KIR (Killer-Immunoglobulin-like Receptor) Typing – KIR typing has been implemented in R&D to explore further the KIR-HLA and KIR-HIV associations for the role of KIR in the reduction of graft-vs-Host disease and in HIV disease progression.
  3. Centre oExcellence for HLA NGS testing to build technical capacity and experience in interpretation and analysis of next generation sequencing results. This will be run in conjunction with the Translational Research section and offers an opportunity to train and develop people both in South Africa and Africa.

Contact details
Molecular Research and Development laboratory – 031 719 6953/6512


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