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Tecan Journal

Selected issue: 2/2018

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Building blocks for custom solutions

Developing customized laboratory automation solutions for complex liquid handling operations requires access to state-of-the-art robotics and OEM instrumentation. Flexible and modular components are essential building blocks of many of these bespoke designs, and the Xantus® XYZ robot has stood the test of time, supporting over 10 years of OEM integration by Synchron Lab Automation.

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Redesigning the drug safety workflow

Detecting adverse off-target effects is crucial to ensure the safety of potential therapeutics, but limited throughput and ethical considerations have traditionally forced pharmaceutical companies to perform safety pharmacology studies at a late stage of the drug development process. Human stem cell-based cellular models and automated screening processes are revolutionizing drug safety studies, enabling much earlier testing, with companies such as Ncardia at the forefront of this workflow transformation.

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Sequencing made easy

Automation is helping the University Hospital Münster to streamline its molecular diagnostics workflows, increasing throughput for Sanger sequencing and NGS library preparation.

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Automation by numbers

Biopharmaceutical production is a complex process compared to small molecule drug manufacture, requiring the interaction of multiple biosynthesis pathways to create the target product. KBI Biopharma is using high throughput bioanalysis to gain an in-depth understanding of these biological processes, ensuring efficient, reproducible and scalable biomanufacturing processes.

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Cell counting made easy

Small molecule drug discovery involves a range of functional assays that have traditionally relied on manual cell counting techniques to monitor proliferation, migration and invasion. Automated cell counting is enabling the EB House Austria to save time and free up personnel, as well as designing time-course experiments that were previously unachievable.

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Long-read sequencing for improved analysis

Next generation sequencing is now in widespread use throughout the life sciences sector, but the commonly used short-read sequencing methods are often subject to GC base pair bias. Combined with the inherent mapping ambiguity of the short reads, this often results in fragmented genome assemblies, creating a demand for technologies offering longer reads that simplify analysis and yield more complete sequences. Using its proprietary technology, Pacific Biosciences is able to offer longer reads, more uniform coverage and high accuracy, supporting advanced genomics, full-length transcript sequencing and epigenetics.

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Lipidomics – the future of personalized medicine?

Personalized medicine is on the horizon, and cell membrane lipidomics may hold the key. Italian biotechnology company Lipinutragen is studying the relationship between the membrane status and dietary and health conditions. A crucial part of the process is the isolation of mature red blood cells, which can be performed more precisely and reproducibly using laboratory automation than by manual processing.

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Biosensors light the way for drug development

The successful treatment of inflammatory diseases may lie with controlling the production of particular proteins, driving efforts to identify translational repressors for drug targeting. Scientists at the Moulder Center for Drug Discovery Research have developed luminescencebased biosensors for protein detection, supporting multiplex studies and timecourse assays for identifying and characterizing novel compounds.

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A tailored solution to meet bioprocessing challenges

Automation offers many benefits for bioprocess development involving multiple microbial strains, yet few off-the-shelf platforms are capable of combining liquid handling tasks with microscale cultivation. The Microbial Bioprocess Lab at Forschungszentrum Jülich needed a customized platform to support its research, and turned to the Tecan Integration Group for a solution that has improved its microbial cultivation workflows.

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Making big discoveries accessible to all laboratories

Developing therapies to treat rare diseases is often hindered by the limited availability of primary patient samples. Without these precious samples, it is difficult to understand the fundamental biology of these conditions or screen compound libraries for drug candidates. A group at the University of Parma is using a ‘chemogenomics’ approach to overcome this challenge, working on a nanoliter scale to identify new treatments for aggressive pediatric leukemias.

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Long-term partners in success

Continuous advances in medical understanding are leading to rapid growth in the demand for diagnostic testing, making automation essential for laboratories trying to address this increase in their workloads. Many providers are also centralizing and consolidating testing to reduce costs, relying on instruments with higher throughput capacities to meet the demands of large service laboratories. Spanish biotechnology company Vircell recently partnered with Tecan to create a high throughput automated system for its VirClia® assays, building on the success of the company’s existing VirClia instrument.

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Detection at the molecular level

Many common food additives and pharmaceuticals make their way directly into aquatic ecosystems. While their effects on humans are well documented, the impact on the environment and marine lifeforms is largely unknown. This has become the focus of a collaborative project involving researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, which has adopted fluorescence polarization to explore the problem at the molecular level, screening compounds for their affinity to nuclear receptors.

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