On the cutting edge

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

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In honor of the fact that this issue is so cancer-focused, including a wrap-up of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) annual meeting starting on page 29, how about a couple big-name companies and what they were unveiling at AACR 2017: BioTek Instruments and Agilent Technologies.
For BioTek’s part, the company featured its latest advancements to facilitate cancer research, highlights being the Lionheart FX, Cytation 5 and MultiFlo FX.
The Lionheart FX is a fully integrated digital inverted microscope for live- and fixed-cell imaging applications, offering fluorescence, high contrast brightfield, color brightfield and phase contrast imaging with up to 100x magnification. Temperature control and available CO2/O2 control and humidity chamber optimize conditions for live-cell imaging, while dual reagent injectors are available for fast kinetic assays. Along with Gen5 software, Lionheart FX provides Augmented Microscopy, a workflow automation concept that provides automated image capture, processing and analysis for publication-ready images and data.
The Cytation 5 cell imaging multimode reader, meanwhile, combines automated digital widefield microscopy with conventional multimode microplate reading in a unique, patented design to provide information-rich images and quantitative data for live-cell assays, along with a broad range of other applications. Its patented Hybrid Technology offers filter- and monochromator-based multi-mode detection in a modular, upgradable design for versatility and workflow efficiency now and as laboratory needs evolve.
Finally, the modular MultiFlo FX microplate dispenser replaces up to five separate liquid handlers to save time and instrument costs when dispensing into six- to 1,536-well microplates. Up to four independent reagents are dispensed using Parallel Dispense technology, which combines syringe and peristaltic pumps to eliminate potential reagent carryover, while optional RAD technology enables random access dispensing to individual wells.
As for Agilent, the company showcased some of its most recent technological advances in the areas of cell analysis and genomics at AACR, including a preview of its newest next-generation sequencing (NGS) library prep solution—SureSelectXT HS—which reportedly provides the first complete target enrichment solution, from quality control to target enrichment to analysis and interpretation, that is optimized for low-input formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) samples. Additionally, SureSelect XT HS incorporates molecular barcodes, which improves precision and produces higher-complexity libraries on a wide range of tissue types.
“With SureSelectXT HS, researchers will now be able to sequence deeper and achieve greater sensitivity, increasing confidence in their results,” said Rebecca Brandes, global marketing director for cancer genetics at Agilent Technologies. “Molecular barcodes increase variant calling accuracy, reduce false positive calls and improve data quality overall.”
Also on show at AACR was the new Agilent Seahorse XF Glycolytic Rate Assay, an innovative assay said to be as accurate as a lactate assay, but providing more by reporting real-time changes in both central cellular metabolic pathways, enabling the identification of how and when metabolic switches occur (such as the Warburg effect). This ability to delineate the different energy pathways used by various tumors will help research scientists develop novel approaches to inhibit cancer cell survival and growth.
“Cancer cells can be dependent on pathways fueled by specific substrates for survival or proliferation, offering an opportunity to identify and confirm metabolic liabilities as therapeutic targets,” said Dr. David Ferrick, senior director of the Cell Analysis Division at Agilent. “The Agilent Seahorse XF assay platform enables the study of metabolic pathways and fuels that cancer cells depend on to generate energy.”

MilliporeSigma’s CHOZN is the ‘chosen one’ for SystImmune
BILLERICA, Mass.—MilliporeSigma recently announced that its CHOZN expression system will be used by SystImmune, a Seattle-based biotechnology company, for commercial development of a bispecific antibody therapeutic.
The CHOZN expression system is designed to deliver manufacturing-ready robust and stable producing clones with a workflow that minimizes the resources needed to complete a cell line development project. As a result, users are able to quickly evaluate more molecules in their pipeline.
“When compared with alternate expression systems, our CHOZN system offers a turnkey solution that consistently delivers shortened development timelines,” said Udit Batra, CEO of MilliporeSigma.
“With only two scientists in our cell science department, we were able to generate more than 10 stable cell lines using this platform in a single year,” said Camilla Wang, a scientist at SystImmune. “The CHOZN platform outperformed other systems in many ways. It is easy to use, requires less time to generate final single cell clones and most of all, the expression level is consistently higher compared to the other approaches.”
Along with the CHOZN cells, MilliporeSigma provides an expression vector, extensive user protocols, a comprehensive cell line history document and paired cGMP media and feeds. MilliporeSigma also offers gene engineering services using its CompoZr zinc finger nuclease technology to engineer CHO cell lines with characteristics attractive to biopharmaceutical developers and manufacturers, including resistance to Centinel technology.

Horizon introduces new BRAF-resistant melanoma PDX models
CAMBRIDGE, U.K.—Horizon Discovery Group plc in May announced it had added four BRAF-resistant melanoma patient derived xenograft (PDX) models to its range of commercially available in-vivo models to support drug efficacy studies.
“It is becoming increasingly apparent that individual genetics can have a powerful impact on the efficacy and toxicology of therapeutics,” commented Dr. Chris Eden, product manager for Horizon Discovery. “By understanding which genes and genotypes can impact a drug, not only can the right drug be directed to the right patient at the right dose, but more efficient clinical trials can be designed, offering the promise of less-costly, faster and lower-risk trials for pharmaceutical partners.”
Horizon has partnered with The Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology in Philadelphia to make available their large collection of highly characterized melanoma PDX models to the research community. These melanoma models are representative of all previously well-described melanoma subtypes identified by the Cancer Genome Atlas.

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