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Jan 1, 2011 (Vol. 31, No. 1)

Novel Methods Expedite Nucleic Acid Sample Prep

Technologies Focused at Both the Research and Clinical Markets Stir Excitement in the Field

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    According to Aurora Biomed, its Versa 1100 automated, multichannel, liquid-handling system maximizes accuracy, precision, and throughput while minimizing time and consumable costs. It also offers flexibility in volume range, liquid-handling modules, deck modules, and labware adapters for custom applications used in specific protocols.

    Recent developments in genomic identification using microarray technologies are infiltrating the fields of forensics, diagnostics, and sample identification. They include a combination of new hardware designs and innovative approaches to sample processing. In addition, microfluidics and miniaturization are emerging as key components of powerful new multiplexing platforms. The upcoming “Pittcon” meeting will cover all of the latest advances.

    A critical first step in genomic profiling is the preparation of high-quality DNA. Aurora Biomed provides liquid-handling systems, assay services, and reagents for the life sciences, according to Sikander Gill, Ph.D., research scientist.

    The company’s robotic workstations automate genomic, proteomic, cell biology, biochemistry, drug discovery, and analytical applications. The Versa series is a group of liquid handlers ranging in throughput and size, providing a customizable solution for any lab-space, Dr. Gill notes.

    The Versa Mini Nucleic Acid Preparation Workstation is a small, single-arm system equipped with a single-channel syringe pipettor, while the Versa 1100 workstation has a larger deck capacity and may be equipped with a single channel, 8-channel, or 96-channel pipettor, depending on the user’s requirements.

    Various on-the-deck modules such as plate shakers, heater/coolers, etc, enable the systems to fully automate a wide range of liquid-handling applications, allowing researchers the freedom to walk-away during the protocols, Dr. Gill adds.

    Dr. Gill says that isolation of DNA from blood samples using Aurora’s high-throughput Magnetic Binding Blood DNA Kit in combination with its Versa automated liquid handlers is straightforward. This magnetic bead-based genomic DNA or RNA system can be used with a range of tissue or fluid samples. This method allows rapid and efficient extraction of genomic DNA without exposing the DNA/ RNA to dry conditions, he adds.

    The workstations also provide vacuum-based applications for nucleic acid isolation procedures including centrifugation-based methods. As the Versa platforms are designed for use with 96-well plates for extractions, they can perform multiplexing protocols efficiently, reportedly holding reagent expenditures to a minimum and also for 384 formats.

    The magnetic bead based application is also appropriate for purification of amplicons as a post-PCR application, and in next-generation library preps for DNA/RNA fragment size selection and purification of adaptor-ligated fragments, etc.

    Dr. Gill says some biological materials like FFPE tissues, plant materials with hard shells, yeast cells with recalcitrant cell walls, are challenging. However, he explains that there are now kits available for processing these tissues that have been accommodated on the Versa workstations. There are other accessories, such as the Bead Beater (a mechanical disruption apparatus using glass or zirconia-silicate beads), that avoid degradation of nucleic acids while effectively preparing the tissues for analysis.

    “Our processing technologies avoid the use of centrifugation, as this adds cumbersome and expensive steps to nucleic acid preparation,” Dr. Gill explains. “We also offer column-separation approaches as well as liquid-liquid (aqueous-organic) extraction procedures for preparation of nucleic acids and other cellular components.”


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