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Tecan Journal dot

Selected issue: 2/2017

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Fishing for genetic information

Canada’s Molecular Genetics Laboratory at the Pacific Biological Station uses DNA analysis to identify and track salmon from different hatcheries. Automated NGS has enabled the laboratory to introduce parentage-based tagging, a cost-effective alternative to the coded wire tag system.

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OEM instrument design offers automated patch clamping solution

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Ion channels regulate many physiological processes, as well as playing a role in many diseases, making them a target for 20 percent of registered drugs. Patch clamping remains the gold standard assay for investigating ion channels, but the manual technique requires patience, and extensive training, and has a low throughput, resulting in ion channels remaining poorly understood.

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Working towards cancer-free childhoods

Developing cancer drugs for clinical trials involves not only identifying and evaluating suitable agents, but also observing how they interact with the cocktail of other drugs in a cancer treatment regime. For the Telethon Kids Cancer Centre in Perth, Western Australia, increasing throughput and reducing assay volumes are essential to save money and time in the race to beat cancer.

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Traditional medicine meets modern analytics

Chinese medicine combines herbal remedies with acupuncture, massage, exercise and diet to provide alternative therapies for a wide range of conditions. Despite drawing on over 2,500 years of traditional knowledge, little is known about the mode of action of these herbal medicines. Researchers at Zhejiang University’s College of Pharmaceutical Sciences are looking to address this, using modern laboratory techniques to identify the numerous active pharmaceutical ingredients and synergistic effects that contribute to their efficacy.

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Accelerating R&D through collaboration and automation

Discovering and developing new antimicrobial drugs to tackle antibiotic resistance requires an understanding of how bacteria respond and adapt to new compounds. A range of tests are needed to determine the effi cacy of potential drugs, such as aggregation and adhesion/invasion assays. For SMALTIS, a biotechnology company in Besançon, France, test automation has dramatically improved throughput and data collection, freeing up research hours to concentrate on developing new experiments.

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Taking the guesswork out of drug development

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.

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What is normal? Understanding the vaginal microbiome

Microbiome research is still in its infancy, with little currently understood about the role micro-organisms play in both maintaining our day-to-day health and the genesis of disease. Researchers at the Karolinska Institute are using next generation sequencing to establish a baseline of the microbiota present in healthy individuals as a starting point for the development of new therapeutic strategies for a wide range of diseases.

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Flexibility for speed

Maintaining a flexible approach can be difficult in biopharmaceutical research; core laboratories must balance the ability to adapt to individual project requirements with the need for efficient, high throughput processing of ever-increasing sample numbers. Novo Nordisk’s Research Bioanalysis Department has adopted a semi-automated workflow, which combines the versatility to work across the company’s various research areas with accurate and reproducible testing of thousands of samples a day.

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Faster processing of samples in steroid hormone testing

Mass spectrometry is now routinely used for clinical diagnostics around the world, but manual sample preparation and traditional liquid-liquid extraction techniques are very time consuming, requiring new approaches to help streamline laboratory workflows. The endocrinology service at Charing Cross Hospital is using high throughput automated SPE to accelerate mass spec sample prep, improving turnaround times and freeing up staff time to develop new assays.

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Perfect synergy for molecular diagnostics

Automation has an important role to play in molecular diagnostic workflows, minimizing manual interventions to help enhance throughput. Mobidiag has developed a CE-marked, automated platform for nucleic acid extraction and PCR plate set-up, enabling high volume screening and antibiotic resistance testing for gastrointestinal pathogens.

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Luciferase comes to the devil’s rescue

Wild Tasmanian devils are vulnerable to a facial cancer discovered in 1996 and identified as a transmissible tumor a decade later. The contagious disease originated in northeastern Tasmania and spread throughout the country, decimating the devil population and raising the real possibility of extinction. Scientists at the Menzies Institute for Medical Research, University of Tasmania, have pioneered research into the problem – drawing upon the latest developments in human immunology and bioluminescence cytotoxicity assays – in the hope of developing a vaccine to save the island’s iconic marsupial.

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Expanding the experimental space

Biomanufacturing requires careful separation of the molecule of interest from other cellular products to ensure the quality and stability of the final product. This is even more important for the manufacture of biotherapeutics, as the presence of unwanted molecules in pharmaceutical preparations can affect the efficacy and safety of biologically-derived drugs. FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies is using automated chromatography condition screening to generate more data in less time, helping to improve the performance of purification processes and accelerate biological drug manufacturing.

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