On the cutting edge

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

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ALPHARETTA, Ga.—Aptean, a leading provider of mission-critical enterprise software solutions, announced Oct. 3 the acquisition of GQ Life Sciences Inc., a global provider of life-sciences patent search solutions. Financial terms of the sale were not disclosed.
“The acquisition of GQ Life Sciences expands our ability to provide vertically focused mission-critical enterprise solutions by entering the life-sciences and Big Data markets where we see significant growth opportunities,” said Kim Eaton, Aptean’s CEO. “GQ Life Sciences leverages its deep expertise in biology, genomics and semantics to deliver a best-in-class patent search solution, fueled by the world’s largest database of biological sequences. The solution is used daily by research professionals around the globe to provide insight into emerging inventions and enable their future innovations.”
GQ Life Sciences’ flagship product, GenomeQuest, provides researchers with the ability to search for biological sequences across 815,000 worldwide patents (or more than 345 million sequences). GQ Life Sciences also recently launched LifeQuest, a specialized keyword search tool, which provides a wider range of users the ability to scan a dedicated database of more than 15 million life-science patents. Since 1999, GQ Life Sciences has built a strong reputation in the life-sciences industry, now serving nine of the top 10 pharmaceutical companies, all five top agrochemical and seed companies, biotech companies, law firms, diagnostic labs and patent offices around the world.
“As a part of Aptean, GQ Life Sciences will have the opportunity to expand the development of our proprietary search algorithms and database model to create richer search options and deeper insights for the patent searcher and scientific researcher,” said Richard Resnick, GQ Life Science’s CEO. “We look forward to utilizing Aptean’s global reach and operational efficiencies to expand our business while continuing to provide the unmatched data and services our customers know and trust to mitigate risk and protect their intellectual property.”
As for some other recent tools and technology news:
Shimadzu releases new triple quadrupole GCMS
COLUMBIA, Md.—In October, Shimadzu Scientific Instruments announced the release of the new GCMS-TQ8050 triple quadrupole gas chromatograph mass spectrometer, which it says “achieves the world’s highest sensitivity down to femtogram level.” The new GC-MS/MS is based on Shimadzu’s continually advancing “smart technologies” that enable it to “achieve new possibilities in sensitivity, durability, performance, stability and reliability.”
The instrument’s newly designed high-sensitivity detector offers an instrument detection limit approximately 10 times more sensitive than the current system, enabling reliable detection of femtogram-level (parts per quadrillion) concentrations of trace components. Coupled with improved long-term stability due to high amplification levels and reduced noise levels, the GCMS-TQ8050 is said to be ideal for analysts who require the most reliable trace analysis results.
Two smart technologies, Smart MRM and Smart Database, enable the GCMS-TQ8050 to achieve high accuracy from method creation to data analysis. With the Smart MRM function, analysts can automatically create methods with which data is acquired only during the elution time of the target components. Smart Database provides preregistered information about optimal transitions, meaning optimized methods can be created without having to evaluate analytical conditions.

Thermo Fisher: Verifying antibodies used to study proteins
WALTHAM, Mass.—Thermo Fisher Scientific announced in late September that it has developed a new antibody testing and verification methodology using immunoprecipitation-mass spectrometry (IP-MS) that is designed to help researchers, antibody producers and customers identify the best antibodies to study proteins. IP-MS technology uses mass spectrometry to identify and quantify immunoprecipitated proteins from a cell lysate. This allows for the confirmation of an antibody’s target enrichment performance by verifying selectivity for the intended protein target, identifying potential off-targets and demonstrating the enrichment of known interacting proteins. The IP-MS approach has the potential to address the need for improved antibody validation.
Importantly, this novel method is tested with native proteins endogenously expressed, or produced within an organism, in well-characterized cell lines. Complementation assays and affinity purification methods with overexpressed recombinant proteins are commonly used for the identification of protein-protein interactions. In contrast, this IP-MS technology and workflow uniquely identifies protein-protein interactions by capturing and identifying native proteins from a native cell lysate.
“This antibody testing methodology represents a significant advancement for verifying antibodies,” said John Rogers, senior manager of mass spectrometry reagents at Thermo Fisher Scientific. “The current success rate for researchers to identify ‘good’ antibodies for Western blotting is typically one out of three to five antibodies tested, while it can often take five to 10 antibodies to find an optimal antibody for the IP-MS approach. This can result in wasted time and money. Use of this new IP-MS approach verifies the antibody target selectivity and performance and allows for more efficient identification of protein-protein interactions. It’s not a complicated technique, but there is elegance in its simplicity.”
The new antibody verification pipeline aligns with the company’s commitment to ensuring high quality and consistent antibodies for biomedical research. In 2015, Thermo Fisher assisted in establishing the International Working Group on Antibody Validation (IWGAV) to help address this critical unmet need for broadly accepted antibody quality and validation standards. The IWGAV is a group of international scientists with diverse research interests, but a shared goal of improving standards for antibody use and validation. It recently proposed new strategies published in Nature Methods in an effort to guide antibody validation in specific research applications.

Onset expands InTemp line for cold chain monitoring
BOSTON—Onset recently expanded the company’s InTemp family of pharmaceutical cold chain management products with the launch of two new solutions: InTemp CX500 Series temperature loggers and the InTempConnect cloud-based data warehousing service. Together with Onset’s proven CX400 Series loggers and InTemp mobile application, the solutions provide end-to-end visibility throughout the pharmaceutical supply chain—from the manufacturing plant, across distribution, to pharmacies, clinics and other healthcare facilities.
Bluetooth Low Energy-enabled InTemp CX500 Series loggers provide in-transit temperature monitoring—without the need to open boxes—to reduce temperature excursions and handling errors. The InTempConnect cloud-based data warehousing service enables command-center control over all logger deployments throughout the global supply chain. And like all InTemp products, the new solutions achieve 21 CFR Part 11 compliance, ensuring electronic records and electronic signatures are trustworthy and reliable.
“Today’s temperature-monitoring solutions have not kept pace with growing government and market pressures for pharmaceutical companies to validate the integrity of their products and gain tighter control over costs,” said Paul Della Villa, product marketing manager for Onset. “Our expanded line of InTemp pharmaceutical cold chain monitoring solutions addresses that innovation gap by harnessing mobile and cloud technology to bring unprecedented ease of use, cost-effectiveness and comprehensive functionality to monitoring the entire distribution chain.”

ArcherDX dives into liquid biopsy research
BOULDER, Colo.—ArcherDX, which works in the area of next-generation sequencing (NGS)-based gene fusions, has announced the addition of a liquid biopsy assay to its portfolio. Archer Reveal ctDNA 28 is the first in a line of Archer assays developed for liquid biopsy research applications.
“Digital PCR is great if you know what you’re looking for,” stated Dr. Jason Myers, CEO of ArcherDX. “But for initial identification of a mutation profile, or for detecting evolving resistance mutations, NGS casts a much broader net. The entire market is looking at liquid biopsies in order to accelerate the identification of driver mutations.”
Designed for lung and other solid tumor types, the Archer Reveal ctDNA assay includes full-exon coverage of the tumor suppressor TP53 as a general marker of malignancy. The panel also covers key activating and drug-resistance mutations in 27 different oncogenes associated with multiple solid tumor types.
The Archer Reveal ctDNA assay was designed for high-throughput laboratories and utilizes the same lyophilized reagents and automated bioinformatics analysis as other Archer assays. The assay generates NGS libraries using as little as 1ng of circulating, cell-free tumor DNA and requires only five million paired-end reads.
“The workflow of the Archer Reveal ctDNA assay is very fast and very easy to run. Beta users have stated that with an eight-channel multipipettor, an individual investigator can easily generate over 24 different libraries in less than seven hours, with total time from sample to sequencer in a single day,” stated Dr. Brian Kudlow, vice president of R&D at ArcherDX.

Bio-Rad releases spectroscopy software
HERCULES, Calif.—In early October, Bio-Rad Laboratories Inc., a global provider of life-sciences research and clinical diagnostic products, announced the release of its KnowItAll 2017 spectroscopy software and databases.
This release offers an additional 976,000 reference spectra in the KnowItAll Spectral Library including Bio-Rad’s Sadtler spectra as well as spectra from John Wiley & Sons Inc., bringing the spectral database collection to over 2.3 million spectra.
“Bio-Rad’s KnowItAll spectroscopy software and databases are essential tools for any organization managing spectral data, performing spectral analyses, and sharing analytical information,” said Dr. Gregory M. Banik, Bio-Rad’s general manager of informatics. “We continue to innovate and provide value to our customers by combining intelligent software with the largest collection of spectral data, resulting in faster and more accurate analyses.”
Bio-Rad’s award-winning KnowItAll software offers comprehensive solutions for spectral analysis, identification, search, data management and reporting and supports multiple instrument vendor file formats and techniques (IR, Raman, NIR, NMR, MS, UV-Vis).

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