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Selected issue: 1/20/20

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Live cell imaging: how to gain more control

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.

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Spark® Cyto to empower CORE oncology research

Congratulations to Christophe Deben and the team at the University of Antwerp’s Center for Oncological Research (CORE) on winning a fully-loaded Spark Cyto plate reader with live cell imaging and real-time cytometry!

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Precision pipetting and perfect plates

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.

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Driving the development of novel 3D cell-based assays

3D cell culture is an area of great interest in the drug development industry, as 3D models give a more accurate representation of how cells act in response to compounds in vivo. Merck’s Cellular Pharmacology Department specializes in the use of spheroid cell cultures to test various conditions and compounds of interest, and identify candidate drugs. Automation plays a vital role in this process, enabling high throughput screening of cell-based assays.

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Traditional Chinese medicine for the 21st century

Recent viral outbreaks have alerted the world to the serious consequences of viral disease, yet the development of new antiviral drugs is challenging because of problems such as resistance or lack of molecular targets. Researchers at Zhejiang University’s College of Pharmaceutical Sciences are seeking to identify new antiviral drugs by combining insights from traditional Chinese medicine with modern high throughput technologies to discover novel lead compounds.

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Positive pressure proteomics

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.

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Sensing success

Spanish company Advanced Wave Sensors (AWSensors) is playing a key role in the pan-European Horizon 2020 LiqBiopSens and Catch-U-DNA projects to develop a new liquid biopsy platform for the early detection of colorectal and lung cancers. An important part of this process was the creation of a liquid handling platform incorporating an acoustic wave sensor array and microfluidic technology for the analysis of biomarkers in blood.

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A Spark® of hope for nerve damage repair

Damage to the brain or spinal cord can be life changing for affected individuals, and it was historically thought that these injuries would not heal and could not be repaired. However, since the discovery of neurite growth inhibitors by Professor Martin E. Schwab at the University of Zurich, clinical researchers have been exploring new therapeutic approaches to treat cerebral stroke and spinal cord injury. The Wyss Zurich/University of Zurich CeNeReg project and NovaGo Therapeutics Inc. – co-founded by Professor Schwab – are at the forefront of this exciting field, and are dedicated to the development of human antibody therapeutics to stimulate nerve repair and regeneration.

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Streamlining genomics workflows

DNA isolation and PCR set-up can be laborious and time consuming when performed manually. Dutch pathology and microbiology services provider PAMM has overcome this issue by automating its molecular testing protocols for sexually transmitted infections and gastrointestinal conditions, freeing up staff to perform other tasks.

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Food for thought

Patients suffering from a number of different chronic diseases are turning to holistic healthcare provider RP Sanitas Humanus in the Netherlands for answers, frequently after conventional medicine has been unsuccessful. Food intolerances often lie at the root of the problem, and can be evaluated using automated analysis of IgG and IgG4 antibodies to isolate the true causes.

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Capturing the IVD market in China

In vitro diagnostics (IVD) is central to the provision of healthcare globally, and is estimated to be worth in excess of $8.2 billion (€7.3 billion) a year in China alone.1 Despite this, the Chinese IVD landscape has historically been controlled by large international providers, with few domestic instrumentation and assay suppliers. Start-up company Shenzen AiTe is looking to change this, with the development of diagnostic platforms and assays offering rapid detection for a wide range of blood-based markers.

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Artificial intelligence – the hero drug discovery needs

Drug discovery is a lengthy and expensive process, particularly in the early candidate identification stages, where screening of large numbers of compounds is required. Researchers at the University of Central Florida are using artificial intelligence (AI) to aid candidate selection for antimalarial drugs, making this selection process more efficient and cost effective, as well as increasing the likelihood of success.

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