On the cutting edge

A roundup of instrumentation, software and other tools and technology news

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To start with this month, we have news that the Biomechanics and Biomimetics Research Laboratory at the University of Colorado Boulder is using a Renishaw inVia confocal Raman microscope to characterize biological tissues and biomaterials. The system has been interfaced with a nanoindentation system from Hysitron Inc. to provide combined chemical and mechanical information on samples.
Prof. Virginia Ferguson, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at the university, focuses on the mechanical behavior and underlying materials science of biological tissues and biomaterials, and her group investigates the local mechanical properties of materials that are biological, biomimetic or used in biological tissue replacement (e.g. for tissue repair and regeneration), correlating these properties with chemical and structural information obtained from Raman and other techniques.
More specifically, Ferguson's research emphasizes the experimental study and finite element modeling of native osteochondral (bone-cartilage) tissues and of materials for osteochondral tissue regeneration; bone tissue properties in mouse models that are affected by unloading and microgravity, aging, and/or metabolic disease; and tissues involved in successful pregnancy outcomes in humans.
Pairing Renishaw's inVia Raman microscope with the TriboIndenter from Hysitron reportedly resulted in a combined instrument that provides a greatly enhanced characterization capability complementing existing spectroscopies.
“The inVia offers a degree of customization that is not available on other systems,” Ferguson explained. “More importantly, we like the manner in which the inVia collects Raman spectra compared to other systems. We are the first to have joined the Hysitron nanoindenter with any Raman spectroscopy tool and have had technical challenges to overcome. I have been exceptionally pleased with the level of customer support we have received from Renishaw during the development of our unique combined instrument. Renishaw has been fantastic to work with.”
And now for some other news on the tools and technology front:
Titian and HighRes close gap in compound management info flow
WOBURN, Mass.—HighRes Biosolutions and Titian Software have worked closely to enable linkage of Titian’s market leading Mosaic sample management software with HighRes’ Cellario automation system control software. This collaboration has resulted, the companies say, “in the integration of Mosaic’s powerful inventory control and sample tracking with the potent laboratory automation capabilities of Cellario.”
This collaborative effort reportedly closes a gap in compound management information flow by facilitating direct communication between Titian’s widely used Mosaic sample management system and Cellario’s dynamic scheduling software. The net result is to provide users with a more seamless and more efficient workflow. Titian’s new Cellario Fulfillment Module interfaces with HighRes’ Cellario Order Broker to simplify the entire process of sample preparation, including labware placement, consumables loading and liquid handling.
“We believe that this software integration that has resulted in the development of the Cellario Order Broker will allow our customers to focus on their business, and not the details of the integration between these two informatics platforms,” said Ira Hoffman, managing director of HighRes Biosolutions. “This should result in significant time savings in translating the planned work into actual production with results—physical and logical—being reported and tracked in real time.”
“This capability gives the Compound Management user total visibility and traceability of their samples from initial compound request through to assay plate creation,” added Edmund Wilson, CEO and founder of Titian Software.

LabCorp announces launch of Epi proColon
BURLINGTON, N.C.—Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings (LabCorp) recently announced the launch of Epi proColon, a blood-based test for colorectal cancer screening that was approved on April 13, 2016 for clinical use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Epi proColon is the first FDA-approved DNA-based blood test for colorectal cancer. The test was developed by Epigenomics AG and is available under a joint commercialization agreement with Polymedco Inc. in North America.
“Colorectal cancer is one of the most curable diseases when detected in its early stages and treated surgically,” said Dr. Mark Brecher, chief medical officer for LabCorp Diagnostics. “Many people are not properly screened because they are reluctant to collect a stool sample or undergo a colonoscopy. Tested from a simple blood draw, Epi proColon is a convenient, accurate alternative for those patients who should be screened for colorectal cancer. LabCorp is committed to delivering world-class diagnostics, and Epi proColon will contribute to our mission to improve health and improve lives."

BasX scquires Seasons 4 clean room product line
REDMOND, Ore.—In late April, BasX Solutions completed its acquisition of the Clean Room Product Line from Seasons 4. The acquisition will bring BasX co-Founder and CEO Dave Benson full circle, having been heavily involved in cleanroom design, manufacturing and operation since the 1980s.
“Seasons 4 has been providing high-quality HVAC products to the clean room industry for some time, and BasX is excited to continue their path of excellence under our brand name,” said Benson. “The team at BasX has a long lineage in the clean room industry, and we feel quite at home with this acquisition. I personally look forward to reconnecting with many colleagues from over the past three decades.”
BasX’s acquisition of Season 4’s Clean Room Product Line includes all technology, intellectual property, inventory and equipment associated with the manufacturing and design of ceiling systems, plenum modules, fan-powered plenum modules, fan filter units, recirculation air handlers and make-up air handlers. Additionally, the acquisition includes key members of the Seasons 4 clean room group.
All existing contracts with Seasons 4 for clean room products will be completed by Seasons 4 at their Georgia manufacturing facility. New projects will be designed and manufactured by BasX at their Oregon headquarters. BasX will maintain a clean room sales location on the East Coast in addition to the Oregon headquarters and California sales office. Seasons 4 will continue to manufacture its custom new and replacement HVAC product lines.

GenePattern now available on high-performance computer cluster at Indiana University
BLOOMINGTON, Ind.—The University of California San Diego School of Medicine, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and Indiana University have announced that the GenePattern platform for integrative genomics is now available on the Mason supercomputer cluster at Indiana University’s National Center for Genome Analysis and Support (NCGAS). GenePattern, a software development collaboration of Broad and UC San Diego, provides access to hundreds of bioinformatics analysis methods and visualization tools, including popular and frequently used methods in the genomics research community, without the need for programming. GenePattern’s web interface includes a pipeline environment for chaining modules together to create sharable, reproducible analysis workflows.
With 288 dual-CPU nodes running a total of 4,608 cores and 3.5 petabytes of storage, Mason provides a significant upgrade in power to support the compute-intensive analysis methods available within GenePattern for the growing number of researchers who need access to them.
NCGAS is the first of several high-performance compute installations that will host GenePattern on resources in the national XSEDE cyberinfrastructure network. Information on how to register is available at www.genepattern.org/genepattern-at-iu-ncgas.

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