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Developing drugs that are effective, with minimal side effects, is important to improve the lives of patients suffering from serious diseases. Leading biotechnology company Amgen focuses on producing therapies for a wide range of conditions, and is currently developing small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) as a method to treat patients with a genetic predisposition to heart disease.
The VirPath laboratory is focused on the study of influenza and other respiratory viruses to identify new antiviral molecules and develop innovative vaccines. Digital dispensing and luminescence-based assays play an important role in the evaluation of viral growth in different experimental models.
Liquid biopsies offer the potential for the minimally-invasive detection of a growing number of cancers. Epigenomics is using its expertise in epigenetics to develop rapid tests for blood-borne cancer biomarkers, based on the unique DNA methylation fingerprint of cancerous cells.
Understanding how and when laboratory automation assets are being used is crucial to maximize productivity and enable effective resource planning in high throughput facilities. California’s Ambry Genetics has a portfolio of almost 60 Fluent® and Freedom EVO® liquid handling platforms, and has worked closely with Tecan on the development of Introspect™, a cloud-based service that provides a comprehensive overview of precisely when and how laboratory automation systems are being used.
GAP Peptides has developed a novel approach to synthesizing high crude purity peptides that minimizes solvent and raw material consumption, while simultaneously reducing waste. Laboratory automation is helping this start-up company to accelerate its research and development, a process crucial to achieving commercial success. The company founders have collaborated with Tecan to establish a unique liquid handling platform, designed and built specifically to meet its workflow needs.
Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy is becoming increasingly popular for high throughput applications, including compound library QC testing, protein-ligand screening and, more recently, screening of biological fluids for clinical research. Serving this diverse market poses a challenge to NMR instrument manufacturers such as Bruker BioSpin, requiring the development of modular and flexible automated sample preparation platforms to ensure optimal results.
Rapid advances in genomic and molecular diagnostic techniques have seen these technologies make a rapid transition from the research bench to the clinic. As with any test used for diagnostic applications, ease of use and reproducible, reliable results are crucial to the successful uptake of molecular methods, meaning that many IVD suppliers are turning to laboratory automation. Sansure Biotech has successfully developed a market for qPCR-based diagnostic technologies in China, and has partnered with Tecan to offer complete automation of its nucleic acid extraction and screening workflows.
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.
Genetic testing is at the forefront of modern medicine, and powerful tools are now available to identify inherited DNA characteristics that are potentially detrimental to health or conversely show susceptibility to targeted therapies. One such service, the Sanford Chip, has been developed by Sanford Health as a screening tool to identify pathogenic and likely pathogenic genetic variations that can be used to estimate the risk of some cancers and cardiac conditions.
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.
The Health Psychology Lab at Brandeis University in the USA is using gold standard luminescence assays to monitor cortisol and other salivary biomarkers of stress. In addition to its own research projects, the Health Psychology Lab offers assay services and technical advice for non-profit and government institutions, from sample collection through to data analysis.
Regenerative medicine aims to stimulate the body’s own repair mechanisms to heal damage to tissues or organs. A wide range of biological materials – from extracellular matrix components and platelet lysates to stem cells – can be used to induce targeted tissue regeneration, but require careful formulation, extraction and purification for clinical use. Researchers at Celixir are exploring the potential of this approach to treat ‘tennis elbow’, a common repetitive strain injury affecting around two percent of the global population.