Tecan uses cookies to improve our website. By continuing to browse our website, you accept our cookie policy.

The Blog dot

Selected category: Genomics, NGS & Biobanking

Back to overview

How to become a genomics rock star: an insider’s view

By Enrique Neumann

It’s an exciting time to be working in genomics. The explosion of sequence data and library preparation methods along with big advances in areas like gene editing and bioinformatics, is paving the way for breakthroughs that seem more like science fiction than science fact. But behind the scenes, day-to-day activities in the genomics lab can be a real drain on your resources and your patience, leaving you little time or energy to focus on the things that really matter. We all have only 24 hours in the day, so how is it that some genomics scientists are chronically stressed out and barely managing to stay afloat, while others seem to produce the goods with ease?

Read more

Epigenetics: Adding a new layer to health - Part II

By Kevin Moore

(Part 2 of 2). The effect of one's lifestyle on the epigenetic steerage of future generations, reviewed in Part I of this series, is a sobering thought. But these insights in epigenetic-based gene regulation are also opening up new possibilities in the development of novel drugs to combat, for example, cardiovascular disease, metabolic disorders, neurological disease and cancer.

Read more

OMG I'm bored! Sources of tedium and error in the genomics lab

By Enrique Neumann

Much of the work done in a genomics lab is repetitive, labor-intensive, and just plain boring. Is this really the best use of highly skilled scientists? How do you keep staff motivation up when another couple hundred samples roll into the lab? Most importantly, all this manual labor creates huge problems in terms of human error and amplified costs. Here are some major sources of tedium and error in the genomics lab where improvements can make a big impact—reducing costly errors, increasing productivity, and possibly even saving your sanity.


Read more

Automating your research? Consider these must-have features when choosing a liquid handling system

By Kevin Moore

The trend towards more automated workflows in research is helping to significantly improve data quality as well as laboratory productivity. But when it comes to choosing an automated system for liquid handling and dispensing, it can be difficult to decide between the large range of technologies and platforms currently available. Here are a few pointers to help you select the features that are most important for your lab.

Read more

Automated genomic and single-cell analytical methods featured at SLAS2018

By Kevin Moore

Always a great forum for networking and sharing information on the latest developments and trends in laboratory automation, SLAS didn’t disappoint this year. The biggest buzz in 2018 focused on the increasingly important role that genomics is playing in the discovery of therapeutic proteins and the ability to target those drugs to specific gene mutations.

Read more

Is NGS costing you more than you think? Some considerations

By Dr. Enrique Neumann

They say that the era of the $100 genome is upon us, but is that true for you? While cost analyses of DNA sequencing indicate that this landmark is finally within reach, the reality is that most NGS labs are still spending far more than that. Here we explore some hidden costs of NGS that occur upstream of sequencing. How many of them are culprits in your lab?

Read more

Epigenetics: Adding a new layer to health - Part 1

By Kevin Moore

We are constantly bombarded with advice on what to eat and drink, and how to exercise. Pregnant women are particularly in the spotlight, being told to avoid exposing their developing fetus to alcohol, tobacco, chemical pollutants, and stress. Who can avoid the repeated warnings about how the environment affects our health, including provoking asthma, heart disease, and metabolic disorders?

In this dizzying maze of risk and uncertainty, scientific research and the pharmaceutical industry are striving to find new ways to combat disease. Rapid progress is being made on all fronts and a relatively new field, epigenetics, is often in the spotlight.

Read more

7 secrets for success when automating NGS for clinical diagnostics

By Alexandra Sommer

Rapid advances in molecular diagnostics, including the application of advanced methods such as next generation sequencing (NGS) in clinical diagnostics, are revolutionizing healthcare. But this puts a lot of pressure on clinical labs to develop, optimize, validate and gain regulatory approval of high throughput assays. The secret to successful automation in the clinical regulatory environment lies in anticipating potential pitfalls. 

Read more

Creating a cost-effective walkaway automated workflow is a breeze with these top tips

By Siegfried Sasshofer

An automated liquid handler for sample processing can significantly increase your productivity. It becomes even more powerful when integrated with other workflow components to enable you to create fully automated walkaway processing for applications such as sample and library prep for next generation sequencing (NGS), or cell-based assays. The question is how to choose components and integrate them.

Read more

How to choose the right liquid handling automation for your lab

By Ralf Masantschek

Automated pipetting is among the most effective ways to minimize human error, increase precision and accuracy, and speed up a lab workflow. However, deciding what the ‘must have’ components are that you need for successful automated liquid handling depends greatly on your goals and applications.

Read more

SLAS2018 dives into the role next gen sequencing and genomics will play in drug screening

By Kevin Moore

Next generation sequencing (NGS) and the related applications for cell-based assay development are poised to be a powerful combination in the field of genomics. SLAS 2018 dives into this topic in the track "Assay development and screening" which includes the session "Utilizing the power of NGS and genomics in screening," chaired by David Piper, Ph.D., Director, Research and Development, Cell and Synthetic Biology, Thermo Fisher Scientific. We spoke to Dr. Piper about the key topics, highlighted trends, and target audience for the talks and presenters he has prepared.

Read more

Innovations in biobanking for biomarker and drug discovery highlighted at SLAS 2018

By Kevin Moore

Biomarker discovery and development depends critically upon the accessibility and quality of biospecimens. Higher throughput and more integrated approaches for biospecimen management and biobanking are becoming increasingly important to avoid industry bottlenecks, as the number and diversity of samples expands rapidly. The track entitled "Biologics Discovery" at SLAS 2018 will include the session "Biobanking: At the Intersection of Biospecimens and Discovery." We interviewed the chair of the session, Dr. Andy Zaayenga of SmarterLab, to find out more.

Read more

Can DIY automation solutions bridge gaps in drug discovery? SLAS2018 takes a look

By Simon Fogarty

In the rapidly evolving, data-driven life sciences sector, it is increasingly common to see labs developing their own in-house solutions to enable scale-up of novel methods, and to bridge technology gaps not yet filled by automation providers. The track "Automation and High-Throughput Technologies" at SLAS 2018 includes the session "In-House Automation: Devices and Software Developed Internally," which will explore this growing trend. We interviewed the session chair, Louis Scampavia, Ph.D., of The Scripps Research Institute to learn more.

Read more

Advances in assay development are focus of SLAS2018 track

By Kevin Moore

From phenotypic assays to 4D cell tracking, high-tech methods are of increasing importance for complex screens. This expanding area will be a main presentation track at SLAS 2018 entitled "Assay Development and Screening" and co-chaired by Dr. Ralph Garippa, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Dr. Edward Ainscow, Carrick Therapeutics. Dr. Garippa provides more insight on this timely and broad-ranging track, which will highlight case histories in assay development, implementation for high throughput screening (HTS) campaigns, and triaging for hit confirmation.

Read more

SLAS2018 will explore advances in high throughput phenotypic screening

By Simon Fogarty

High throughput screening methods for phenotypic drug discovery are in demand, as novel disease models arise and increase in complexity. A main presentation track at SLAS2018 entitled "Automation and High-throughput Technologies" will include the session "Automating Target-Based and Complex Phenotypic Drug Discovery," chaired by Shane Horman, Ph.D. of the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation. We spoke with Dr. Horman to learn more about the key topics, highlighted trends, and target audience for the session.

Read more

Seven essential questions when automating your liquid handling

By Kevin Moore

Automated liquid handling can eliminate many tedious tasks, improve your productivity and free up valuable time for better things…but only if you implement the right solutions. Whether you are working in genomics, cell biology, drug discovery, molecular diagnostics or something completely different, the right liquid handling system can make your life a lot easier. We’ve collected some of the most important questions to consider before taking the plunge with a new automated liquid handling system.

Read more

It’s about time. Nobel Prize honors pioneers in circadian clock biology

By Kevin Moore

Like gravity, some phenomena are so integral to our existence that we’re barely conscious of them. Maybe that’s why the research community was largely taken by surprise when it was announced that this year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to three American scientists for their seminal work on circadian clocks ¹. But consider the synergies with next gen sequencing (NGS) and gene editing technologies, and it becomes clear that the implications of their work are far-reaching. 

Read more

How to make your genomics research more reproducible

By Kevin Moore

The repeatability of biomedical research has become a major issue, and the ability to achieve reproducible research results can only be as good as the liquid handling performance. Automation has become a given step in the drive to generate reproducible data so how well can automated liquid handling perform in, for example, genomics applications?

Read more

Drowning in data: Can precision medicine get smart enough, fast enough?

By Nicholas Smith

Cognitive computing and artificial intelligence have the power to save us from drowning in the vast and growing sea of data needed for precision medicine, but what will it take to achieve a timely return on investment? Experts from multiple disciplines will gather to share their perspectives on this challenging problem at the upcoming Tecan Symposium in Salt Lake City on November 14th.

Read more

Crisis of confidence: How reproducible is your research?

By Kevin Moore

Data driven decision-making depends on generating reliable data in a timely fashion. But the reproducibility of biomedical research results, or rather lack of it, has become a big issue. A recent Nature survey¹ revealed a “reproducibility crisis” in the research community, with 70% of respondents having failed to reproduce the work of other researchers, and over half even failing to reproduce their own results. 

Read more

Personalized next generation sequencing in companion diagnostics: the promise and the challenges

By Alexandra Sommer

The drive to make healthcare more targeted and more personalized has accelerated the application of increasingly sophisticated technologies, such as next generation sequencing (NGS). The result has been the introduction of some NGS-based tests to be used to direct targeted therapies to the right patient. The power is great, but the challenges are many, including how to standardize for routine use.

Read more

CRISPR: editing the drug discovery workflow

By Enrique Neumann

Gene editing is crucial to pharmaceutical development. CRISPR-Cas9 promises to revolutionize the role gene editing plays in drug discovery and even therapeutics.

Read more

Struggling to balance GxP compliance and productivity? Not all automation platforms are created equal

By Jason Meredith

In an increasingly regulated industry, clinical laboratories and manufacturers of in vitro diagnostic (IVD) tests are feeling the pressure to ensure regulatory compliance, while at the same time striving to increase productivity and bring innovative technologies on stream. At times, this balancing act can seem like a losing proposition.

Read more

Why automation of laboratory developed tests is key to easing regulatory compliance

By Jason Meredith

Hospitals are becoming the new centers of innovation for novel clinical diagnostic tests. While this is enabling more sophisticated and personalized approaches to disease prevention, early diagnosis, and targeted treatment, it also has the potential to create major headaches for regulatory management of clinical labs.

Read more

Human genetics – mapping the future of medicine

By Nicholas Smith

Human genetics and drug discovery are now inextricably linked. Large pharmaceutical companies, small biotech and even academic laboratories are sequencing data to identify potential targets for new therapies. But is this information being used to the best effect?

Read more

Next generation sequencing. Knowledge is power

By Nicholas Smith

Scientists around the world have made great strides in genetic testing. But when it comes to realizing the benefits across a wide range of medical specialties access to information is key.

Read more

Miniaturize your PCR set-up

By Dr Manuel Bauer

Why would you want to miniaturize your PCR experiments if they are working well as they are? Because manual PCR setup is tedious and hand pipetting is error-prone. Miniaturization allows for automation, minimizing the labor- and time-intensive aspects of PCR setup and the risks of manual error and cross-contamination.

Read more

Achieve validation faster – integrate Tecan IQ/OQ validated tips into your automated liquid handling solution

By Severin Heynen

As we have seen in the previous posts in this series, developing validated analytical methods becomes more cost- and time-effective when solutions with guaranteed compatibility are incorporated into the analytical system. 

Read more

Make your lab work flow with Fluent ID™

By Florence Collins

A long-term clinical lab study lasting over 10 years showed that more than 60% of all mistakes in the stat lab (the lab that receives high priority samples) can be attributed to the pre-analytical phase. This figure has not changed much from 1997 to 2007,1, 2 despite advances in the technology.

Read more

Using integrated solutions to efficiently meet regulatory demands

By Severin Heynen

Well-documented reliable, accurate data that meets regulatory demands is crucial for success  The key is to develop robust analytical methods based on instruments and other components that perform well together to ease the way forward through Installation Qualification and Operational Qualification (IQ/OQ) and method validation.

Read more

Why an Academic Laboratory Does Not Need Automation, and 5 Reasons Why I Disagree

By Rick Luedke

You may be convinced that your academic research laboratory is humming along just fine and cannot benefit from, take the time to consider, and perhaps most of all, afford adding automation to your workflow.

Read more

Automation removes the colony-picking bottleneck

By Jana Langhoff

Manual colony picking is a highly labor-intensive task that is slow, tedious, and error-prone. Cost-effective automation makes the process more consistent and reliable, as well as considerably faster, enabling hundreds of colonies to be picked per hour, with secure sample tracking throughout the whole workflow.

Read more

Ambry Genetics Builds a SuperLab to Automate NGS of Clinical Samples

SLAS2017 Presentation by Joy Rae-Radecki Crandall, Ambry Genetics

Ambry Genetics operates a CLIA-licensed genetics testing laboratory that processes clinical samples primarily using next-generation sequencing (NGS), followed by Sanger sequencing to verify clinically relevant results and reduce false positives.

Read more

How automated test tube barcoding adds reliability and stops unnecessary errors

By Florence Collins

Scinomix, Inc., founded in 2001, creates customized solutions for labeling tubes, vials and plates in many life science applications. We took the chance to ask Nigel Malterer (CEO) and Jonathan King (Automation Software Engineer) at Scinomix about how automated barcode labeling solutions are helping to improve productivity, reduce errors and costs, and increase control over lab workflows.

Read more

How to make the right choice for barcoding sample tubes – standards, challenges and considerations

By Florence Collins

Barcodes play a central role in minimizing the risk of error in lab automation by providing secure tracking of components throughout the workflow. Barcode-guided lab automation can be simple and cost-effective, with significant paybacks thanks to productivity increases. 

Read more

Tecan delivers sterile tips to your lab bench

By Severin Heynen

As we have learned in previous posts in this series, only pipette tips marked ‘sterile’ are guaranteed with a sterility assurance level (SAL) of 10-6. Pipette tips labeled as ‘Pre-sterile’ do not give such sterility assurances.

Read more

Precision and accuracy – two pillars of data reliability

By Agnieszka Sitarska

The life science industry is constantly fighting to improve throughput and reduce costs through the ‘industrialization’ of research and development. You have to strike a balance between moving quickly (productivity) and ensuring that you are actually moving in the right direction (quality). Lab automation, including automated liquid handling, plays an essential role in ramping up productivity. Ensuring high quality liquid handling is therefore the key to securing the reliable data you need to meet your program goals.

Read more

Implementing NGS for HLA typing: preparation is the key to success

By Jon Smith

If you’ve decided to take advantage of next generation sequencing (NGS) for HLA typing, your timing couldn’t be better.  With the recent introduction of more affordable bench-top sequencers and targeted HLA sequencing panels, NGS is more accessible than ever.  Of course, integration of a new technology into a busy lab takes careful planning to avoid teething problems, so now is the time to consider the impact an NGS system will have on your lab, and what you can do to make the transition as smooth as possible.   

Read more

How to reliably get more data from less volume

By Severin Heynen

With multiple tests to perform on a tiny volume, samples are getting more precious. And as Next Generation Sequencing pushes the envelope on cost and throughput, scientists are looking for ways of reducing reagent volumes without compromising on quality. Tecan has a tip.

Read more

Harnessing the power of NGS with automated solutions for HLA sequencing

By Jon Smith

For patients in need of vital transplants, fast and accurate tissue typing can mean earlier treatment and a better chance of survival.  Next generation sequencing (NGS) is revolutionizing human leukocyte antigen (HLA) typing by providing allele-level resolution in a single high-throughput step. 

Read more

It's a match: The marriage of HLA typing and NGS is a step forward for precision medicine

By Jon Smith

They don’t take up much room in your DNA – a mere 4 megabases on the short arm of Chromosome 6 – but Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) genes play a defining role in whether you will develop an autoimmune disorder, fend off an infectious disease, or have an adverse reaction to potentially life-saving treatments. 

Read more

Automation using low volume disposable pipette tips

By Severin Heynen

The industrialization of biology has become possible thanks to the automation of repetitive tasks such as liquid handling, providing several benefits. It allows customers to extend their window of operations, achieve greater assay consistency and refocus expertise away from repetitive processes. In addition, moving manual steps, such as pipetting into the control of robots also enables secure downsizing of formats, including sample and reagent volumes. 

Read more

Make sure your sterile pipette tips are really sterile

By Severin Heynen


Maintaining control over sterility is critical to success in many academic and clinical research applications, including microbiological assays, biobanking, and handling cells.

Read more

The economics of robotics

By Martin Braendle

Robotics and automation have become essential to the future plans of drug discovery and clinical diagnostic companies. Executives are looking to increase productivity and reduce costs, and automation fits the bill in every respect.

Read more

When an illness is not just in your head

By Beatrice Marg-Haufe

It is becoming increasingly clear that at least some medical conditions previously ascribed only to genetic and biochemical changes in the brain, including neurodegenerative diseases and psychiatric disorders, are linked to alterations in the gut microbiome. Metagenomic research is underway using next-gen sequencing (NGS) and microarrays to characterize the healthy gut microbiome and to identify and quantify aberrations in the types and levels of microbes inhabiting the intestines of patient populations at various stages of disease.

Read more

Synthetic biology has real-world applications

By Beatrice Marg-Haufe

Research and technology development focused on synthetic biology (synbio) and systems biology are expanding, as are its real-world applications. Even as more traditional synbio approaches, which involve engineering microbes to produce novel drugs or chemicals and creating entirely new microorganisms, continue to advance, synbio innovations are driving the technology into advanced biofuels, biosensors, diagnostics, and other promising application areas.

Read more

Metagenomics - coming soon to a city near you

By Beatrice Marg-Haufe

Urban planning, urban warfare, urban decay..., and next up, urban metagenomics. If you had any doubt that we are living in the genomics era, consider this: On June 21st 2016, the International MetaSUB Consortium began collecting and mapping the genomes and epigenomes of microbial samples from 54 cities worldwide.

Read more

Agrigenomics: Tools for plant and animal breeding, fish and fowl

By Enrique Neumann

The term genomics might at first lead you to think of the human genome and the new micro-industry subsectors it has spawned, from prenatal genetic screening for heritable diseases (and one day perhaps to select for "desirable" traits) to companion diagnostics for personalized medicine, and nutraceuticals targeted to correct imbalances in the gut microbiome.Those same types of genomic applications and many, many more can translate directly to the plant and animal world, in which agrigenomic technology is transforming traditional approaches to breeding of commercial species and monitoring and protection of wild populations.

Read more

Metagenomics may provide answers to irritable bowels, asthma attacks and body odor

By Beatrice Marg-Haufe

The "first" genomics era began with the landmark Human Genome Project, which launched in 1990 and was completed in 2003, leading to the sequencing of the 20,000-25,000 human genes. It gave birth to an omics revolution and, by necessity, a series of increasingly sophisticated technologies and techniques for performing shotgun and whole genome sequencing with greater accuracy and efficiency.

Read more

11 key points to install and efficiently initiate a new automated assay system in your laboratory

By Hal Wehrenberg

Congratulations. It took you quite some time and effort to convince your management or institution on the value of investing in automating your experimental or clinical workflow. The applications were submitted, the presentations were made and the wheeling and dealing to secure the budget resulted in you and your team landing the investment. You've arrived. Now all you have to do is choose the robot and get it up and running.

Read more

Five essential software questions to ask before buying a liquid handling instrument

By Hal Wehrenberg

All automation is controlled by software and understanding the differences between options can be complicated. Underestimating the impact of software may set back your budget or critical timelines.

Read more

Miniaturization empowered - discovering the remarkable benefits of the Tecan D300e

By Dr. Manuel Bauer

As Product Manager for Liquid Handling and Robotics at Tecan, I had the opportunity to introduce the power of the Tecan D300e Digital Dispenser at SLAS2016. You can view the presentation here. Without giving too much away, all you need to do is add your liquid and the dispenser does the rest.

Read more

The top 5 pitfalls of custom automation

By Avinash Peddi

What happens when lab automation projects are unsuccessful? One outake is learning that creates a stronger process and methodology. That's exactly what we found at Tecan after working with several hundred customers on lab automation for multiple projects. This presentation from SLAS2016 reveals the top 5 pitfalls of custom automation based on real experience.

Read more

"Self aware" automation - SLAS 2016 presentation

By Hal Wehrenberg

What happens when the robots in your lab become self aware? Take a closer look at this issue and the possibilities by watching this presentation on self-aware automation from SLAS 2016. 

Read more

Ramping up NGS in oncology: Is sequencing tumor DNA enough? Part II

By Achim von Leoprechting

Next-generation sequencing (NGS) is poised to become a decisive tool in diagnostic, therapeutic, and prognostic applications in oncology. In the first part of this two-part series, we saw that sequencing tumor-derived DNA alone can risk incorrect diagnosis by misinterpreting somatic alterations as being tumor-specific. This pinpoints the need to sequence normal tissue in parallel to map out the somatic alterations already present in the patient, which clearly has implications for the future of NGS-based diagnosis and workflows in the clinical laboratory.

Read more

Ramping up NGS in oncology: Is sequencing tumor DNA enough? Part I

By Achim von Leoprechting

Massively parallel sequencing has rapidly become a must-have tool of the trade in molecular biology and drug discovery research. In recent years, the cost of next-generation sequencing (NGS) has declined exponentially, while throughput, accuracy, and read lengths have soared, and multiple regulatory-compliant sequencing technologies have achieved commercial success.

Read more

The short history of cancer research funding- Part II

By Martin Braendle
(Part 2 of 2. Read Part I). In 1948, Bill Koster of the Variety Club of New England and Dr. Sidney Farber working at the Children’s Hospital Boston had launched The Children's Cancer Research Fund, aimed at supporting a hospital dedicated to the research of childhood leukemia. But they needed a poster child to boost fundraising.

 
Read more

The short history of cancer research funding - Part I

By Martin Braendle
In his book, The Emperor of All Maladies, Siddhartha Mukherjee tells the story of one of the turning points in the history of cancer medicine. A turning point that he dates to May 1947. In this two-part article we will look at how cancer research has been transformed by fundraising. 

 

Read more