Currently, real-time PCR is one of the most important techniques used in genomic analysis. The data it provides can be invaluable to determining disease mechanisms and discovering ways to target these diseases. Two new products, StepOne™ from Applied Biosystems (www.appliedbiosystems.com) and Qiagen’s (www.qiagen.com) QuantiFast™, are making this technique more accessible to a wider range of researchers, according to officials at both firms.
The StepOne system offers a low-throughput option for PCR users in a 48-well plate format. “The StepOne is designed for experiments where a 96-well plate is unnecessary, allowing you to conserve reagents and have an application-specific PCR machine,” says Rosy Lee, product manager at Applied Biosystems.
The system has an LCD touchscreen, a USB drive, and a LAN connection, which “allow researchers to monitor the StepOne from their desks,” explains Lee. “It also makes the system flexible, since it can have a PC attached but doesn’t need one.”
Low-throughput PCR offers researchers reliability and reduced in-lab time without the cost of high-throughput machines, and its optical system is able to detect fluorescence from FAM™/SYBR® Green, VIC®/JOE™, and ROX™ dyes, continues Lee.
StepOne’s software offers a wizard guide designed for first-time PCR users. “The software contains multiple wizards and tutorials, which make it easy to use. However, just because the software is easy doesn’t mean it’s not powerful,” she adds.
The QuantiFast Kit uses Qiagen’s Fast Cycling PCR technology to decrease the time required for real-time PCR. The kit was designed to work with every available real-time PCR instrument and assay, according to the company. The kit can reduce the time for a PCR run to 40–60 minutes.
The key to the improved speed is the Q-Bond additive contained in the PCR buffer, which increases DNA polymerase’s affinity for single-stranded DNA. The buffer also contains HotStarTaq Plus DNA Polymerase, which requires only five minutes, at 95°C, for activation.