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Gaining an accurate diagnosis of HIV is essential to ensure that patients get the right treatment, and that the disease is contained as much as possible. In Kenya, where HIV is prevalent, the quality of testing across the country is being monitored through a program established in 2007 that sends out manually produced proficiency testing panels. The demand for this service has grown immensely with the development of point-of-care testing and, to address this, the National Public Health Laboratory has turned to automation to produce more samples in a shorter timeframe and with improved accuracy.
Determining if a new cosmetic product, pharmaceutical ingredient or chemical substance is harmful to humans is a key prerequisite for product safety and consumer protection. Traditionally, skin sensitization testing relied on animal models, but these approaches are expensive, time consuming and raise ethical questions, while only offering limited human relevance and accuracy. SenzaGen has developed a unique, in vitro approach to sensitization testing, combining cell biology and flow cytometry with genomics-based screening and machine learning-assisted classifications.
Cell culture is at the heart of the production process for many biopharmaceuticals, but finding the optimal conditions to maximize yield can be a complex and time-consuming process. Traditional process development relies on costly and labor-intensive set-ups, significantly limiting throughput and the range of experimental conditions that can be assessed. Scientists in Roche Pharma Research and Early Development (pRED) have adopted an alternative approach, combining single-use microbioreactors with advanced automation and analytical platforms to streamline the workflow.
Stem cells offer the potential to revolutionize the treatment of many currently incurable conditions, as well as providing invaluable research tools to further our understanding of biological processes. Since stem cell pioneer Dr James Thomson derived the first human embryonic stem cell line in 1998, this has grown into a whole new field of biology. Dr Thomson and his team at the Morgridge Institute for Research are still at the forefront of this research, using their vast knowledge and experience to develop novel therapeutic approaches and tackle many of the unanswered questions in developmental biology.
Live cell imaging is one of the most important techniques in life sciences today. But behind every great imaging assay, pity the poor scientist grappling with the demands of biological variability and complex kinetic assays. Live cell experiments are often synonymous with unsociable working hours, tedious protocols and unrepeatable results. In this blog, we explore what it takes to tame automated cell imaging assays, and take back control of kinetic experiments to get reliable results more quickly, with fewer errors and less aggravation.
Probiotics play an important role in animal nutrition, ensuring a healthy balance of gut microbiota to improve performance or productivity. Scientists at Christian Hansen are using high throughput liquid handling systems to fully automate sample inoculation and plating for research into novel bacteria for animal feed supplements.
Proteomics studies using mass spectrometry have an important role to play in understanding tumor cell biology and the impact of novel therapeutics. Sample clean-up prior to analysis is an essential part of these workflows, and researchers at Pfizer are performing this on a positive pressure workstation to save time and enhance reproducibility.
Improving sustainability in the materials industry is vital to help address some of the biggest issues faced by today’s world, including climate change and the use of toxic chemicals. Checkerspot, a start-up materials company, is using biotechnology to harness the power of nature, fermenting algae to produce novel bio-based oils for use in materials in the outdoor recreational sector and an expanding number of other applications.
Stem cell research has seen explosive growth in recent years, with the technology holding promise for the treatment and cure of a wide range of conditions, from cancer, diabetes and heart disease to neurological conditions, inherited disorders and conditions of aging, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The Stem Cell Institute (SCI) at the University of Minnesota, founded in 1999, was the first integrated stem cell institute to be established in an academic environment, and focuses on basic and translational research with these versatile cells.
Researchers at the Grenoble Institute of Technology are exploring the potential of biomimetic coatings to aid tissue regeneration. The group has developed an innovative, automated layer-by-layer production technique, allowing high throughput in vitro investigations into the ability of these biomimetic coatings to control stem cell differentiation.
Studying the co-operative and competitive behavior between bacteria offers potential insights into treating polymicrobial infections. Researchers at the University of Zurich are using a combination of biochemical and gene expression assays to probe these community interactions, hoping to better understand how microbial species evolve, co-exist and cause disease.
Cell separation has become instrumental in many areas of medical research over the last two decades, and Miltenyi Biotec’s MACS® Technology has become the gold standard technique, having been cited in over 20,000 publications. Combining superparamagnetic microparticles conjugated to specific antibodies with proprietary columns, this technology uses strong magnetic fields to separate specific cell types, allowing retention of both labeled and unlabeled cells for downstream analysis.
LMSM studies the effects of changing environmental parameters on the physiology of bacteria, and has recently began using this expertise to help the cosmetics industry. Many of these investigations involve absorbance-, luminescence- and fluorescence-based assays, requiring strict control of the temperature inside the microplate measurement chamber for reliable results.
California-based company zPREDICTA™ has created a novel technology that reconstructs physiologically-relevant organ-specific human microenvironments that help eliminate the guesswork from drug development. Meaningful drug discovery studies involve complex experiments that are not feasible to perform manually. Automation is the answer, improving accuracy, saving time and reducing the amount of compound used.
Scientists at Tokyo University of Technology are searching for foodstuffs that can slow the aging process. Focusing on mitochondrial regulation, researchers from the university’s School of Bioscience and Biotechnology are using cell-based assays to help identify food components with anti-aging properties.
The University of Salzburg’s Laboratory of Photodynamic Inactivation is exploring potential roles of photosensitizing agents in human health. With possible applications in areas as diverse as food decontamination and therapeutics, the lab is using a variety of photoactive compounds to generate reactive oxygen species which can kill key microbial pathogens or cancerous cells.
The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology has automated protocols for high throughput separation of cells for therapeutic applications on a Freedom EVO® 200 liquid handling platform. The process maintains cell viability and is more rapid and reproducible than manual methods, enabling processing of 96 samples in four hours.
Researchers at the University of Montreal have benefitted from Tecan’s collaboration with SciRobotics to automate DNA assembly protocols for synthetic biology. Combining a Freedom EVO® 200 with a Pickolo™ Colony-Picker and various other components, the Systems Biology and Synthetic Biology Research Unit has built a streamlined cloning workflow with increased throughput and reliability.
Charybdis Vaccines in Italy has automated phage display/deep sequencing techniques on a Freedom EVO® platform, resulting in faster identification of bacterial antigens and protective antibodies. This system is helping to drive the development of new vaccines against pathogens of major worldwide concern.
Researchers at the innovative stem cell company Cellular Dynamics International (CDI) have developed a novel, serum-free directed differentiation protocol, based on Tecan's Cellerity™ automated cell culturing system. The new method enables the maintenance of a uniform starting population of human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs), leading to the generation of hematopoietic precursor cells (HPCs).
Tecan’s Freedom EVO® liquid handling platform has enabled Nurex to enhance its production of monoclonalantibodies, improving efficiency and increasing the number of clones obtained from each fusion. Nurex is a biotechnology company based in Sassari and Turin, Italy, that specializes in the production of advanced diagnostic tools for biomedical applications in genomics, proteomics and clinical diagnostics.
Scientists at the AstraZeneca Innovation Center China have developed a novel technique using a Freedom EVO® system for temperature-dependent automated preparation of cell culture plates for candidate compound screening. By precoating microplate wells with agar prior to pipetting the BD Matrigel™, the team is able to perform 3D cell-based assays in a 96-well microplate format.
A network project jointly funded by the Swiss Confederation CTI (Commission for Technology and Innovation) and Tecan, bringing together industrial, academic and clinical partners such as the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) and the University Hospital Balgrist in Zurich, has developed a successful automated system based on the Freedom EVO® platform. The system isolates and cultivates cells from human intervertebral disks, improving reproducibility and encompassing all-importantintegral quality control.
Researchers in the Department of Biochemical Engineering, University College London (UCL), UK, have automated stem cell culture on a custom-built Freedom EVOR 100 platform.