March 15, 2006 (Vol. 26, No. 6)

Genetix Adds Dedicated Confluence Measurement Instrument to Its Offerings

Genetix ( CloneSelectImager represents the latest innovation by a company that has, since the early 1990s, specialized in developing innovative automated solutions for research in genomics, proteomics, drug discovery, and now, cell biology.

With confluence representing a key decision-making parameter in cell-line selection, generation, and management, Genetix says the CloneSelectImager has been designed as a benchtop system that takes less than five minutes to consistently deliver objective results for adherent cells in microwell plates.

Range of Automated Systems

The company is possibly most well-recognized for the automated, high-throughput QBot and QPix bacterial colony-picking systems, utilized widely in the 1990s as the workhorses for sequencing applications in the human genome project, explains Mark Reid, CEO. However, Genetix has built its portfolio to include a comprehensive range of automated systems with integrated consumables and reagents for applications in bacterial, yeast, and mammalian cell culture applications.

While both the new generation of QBot systems and QPix platform are still major revenue drivers for the company, the past 15 years has seen major innovation both within our core instrumentation families and through expansion into new areas, Reid points out. In the days of the human genome project our clients were pharma/biotech companies and academic institutes involved primarily in sequencing. Today we retain many of the same customers, but their needs have changed, and the scientific emphasis is now looking at what these sequences mean. The requirements are increasingly for instrumentation designed specifically for more applied processes.

Evolution in Scientific Needs

Genetix development of automated solutions for new scientific methodologies is founded on the companys core expertise in imaging, analysis, robotics, and biology. By watching the sciences evolve and, most importantly, talking to scientists at the front-line of research, we have worked these core competencies into new generations of instrumentation for leading-edge research, continues Julian Burke, Ph.D., CSO.

Over the years there has been a tangible evolution in the kinds of instrumentation the research community needs. Because scientists are now working with far more complex cycles, the trend is not necessarily just for high-throughput but for instrumentation that will interact with complex, cell-based processes over several steps and make analytical decisions as early as possible, ultimately increasing the likelihood of success and thus productivity in the R&D process.

It is only by listening to the needs of scientists and researchers that we can respond to specific market trends, Reid continues. This two-way conversation is mirrored in-house. Our hardware/software engineers and biologists work side-by-side at all stages of product development, and this is a key factor in our ability to develop technologically advanced products that do exactly what is required by scientists in the lab. As a result, each platform can be designed, developed, and configured for specific applications.

Solutions for Complex Applications

Genetix has focused on developing families of instrumentation and complementary consumables for the markets increasingly complex colony picking/arraying applications. The original QPix platform has been joined by the QPix2XT, which features automated microwell plate delivery and tracking, and its application-based derivatives, including the QPExpression, that is capable of automating bacterial or yeast cloning methods requiring plating out, spreading, and colony picking; the QPEvolution, designed to automate the colony selection, picking, and hit-selection steps of protein engineering methods; and the recently launched QPDisplay, designed as a dedicated picking and library-management system for applications in phage display.

The need for mammalian cell-based screening and colony picking systems is evidenced by the success of the ClonePix, launched in January 2004 and the ClonePixFL, launched in January 2005.

The ClonePix uses white light to identify and pick individual mammalian cell colonies, including hybridomas in semisolid media, and adherent cells, including CHO and HEK, Genetix maintains. The more recent ClonePixFL platform is designed for imaging, identification, picking, and stratification of mammalian colonies based either on quantified secretion of unlabeled proteins or expression of fluorescence-labeled transfected proteins.

Featuring automated delivery and de-lidding of 6-well culture plates to the on-board imaging station, the system uses fluorescence imaging with a choice of filter sets to rank and select colonies based on parameters, including size, brightness, proximity to neighbors, and, where appropriate, halo-size. Picked colonies are then dispersed in 96-well plates.

Solid Microarraying Market

Microarraying also remains a solid market for Genetix, Reid stresses. Microarraying is a field that has been fast evolving into new areas of application. To meet current and future trends, the QArray family of instrumentation, including the QArraymini, QArray2, and QArraymax platforms, provide options for DNA or protein microarraying applications right up to production-scale throughput. Applications include the generation of DNA, protein, oligosaccharide, glycoprotein, or CGH arrays on slides or microwell plates for applications, including reverse transfection, RNAi analysis, and synthetic molecule arrays (SAR libraries).

As with all our instrumentation, versatility is paramount, and options, including source plate chillers, hybrid beds to allow printing of microarrays in the wells of 96- or 384-well plates, and a range of spotting pins, are available, giving customers the ability to customize the instrumentation to their exact requirements. The microarray instrumentation family also includes the aQuire, a high-resolution, confocal, laser scanner for rapid imaging and analysis of microarrays.

Future Requirements

Genetix believes that the ability to continually match market requirements with relevant innovation in terms of both automated instrumentation and related products has kept it at the forefront of its field. Listed on the London stock exchange in 2000, the company has been consistently profitable.

According to Reid, many customers have remained loyal to Genetix for a number of years. Innovation combined with the reliability of our systems, and our customer service means we have a client base that returns to us year after year.

This feedback and long-term relationship not only helps the customer make the most of its resources but also helps show us where the future is. We firmly believe our core technologies combined with engineering and scientific expertise will continue to set the scene for the automated solutions of the future.

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