On the cutting edge

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

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AMSTERDAM—Royal Philips, a global leader in health technology, in mid-June announced the launch of its Xplore web-based informatics platform for drug research and biomarker discovery. Part of Philips’ computational pathology portfolio, the new release is said to mark a major upgrade for both pharma and academic researchers, as it will provide them with enhanced search capabilities, barcode support, data visualization tools and third-party image analysis vendor integration. 
With the aim to advance personalized medicine, new drug and biomarker discovery increasingly depends on tissue pathology and the analysis of large volumes of tissue samples, the company notes, and the computational power of Xplore is intended to enable researchers to integrate data from multiple sources including digital pathology and tissue imaging, enhancing their ability to glean critical insights into disease, identify novel biomarkers and develop companion diagnostics.
“Delivering on the promise of personalized medicine means that multiple data sources need to be integrated and analyzed,” said Russ Granzow, general manager of Philips Digital Pathology Solutions. “Computational pathology research tools will be essential to move forward in our increasingly complex medical and research environment.” 
Xplore is an integrated research application that allows institutions to store clinical, image analysis, molecular and summary genomic data with research pathology whole slide images or tissue microarray (TMA) studies. Enhanced search capabilities and data-mining tools will help researchers quantify disease-specific signatures and identify clinically significant cohorts more quickly. The web-based platform allows researchers to connect across institutions for multisite collaboration and knowledge sharing on a global scale.  
The open platform structure of Xplore offers integration with third-party image analysis vendors, such as Definiens Tissue Studio and Indica Halo. Additionally, researchers have the flexibility to use images from multiple digital pathology scanner vendors, including the high-quality images from the Philips IntelliSite Pathology Solution. 
BioTek’s Gen5 software wins SelectScience honor
WINOOSKI, Vt.—BioTek Instruments’ Gen5 Microplate Reader and Imager Software was awarded a SelectScience Silver “Seal of Quality” on June 28, 2017. The seal was awarded for Gen5 having consistently received the highest review ratings by the more than 80 users who have reviewed the software to date. 
Gen5 Microplate Reader and Imager Software integrates with all of BioTek’s imaging and detection systems. From data and image capture through analysis to export of publication-ready data, Gen5 reportedly provides an easy, seamless workflow for myriad applications.
The seals are a new program designed to assist scientists in selecting the best products for their labs. The program is highly selective, only assigning the new seals to approximately 0.1 percent of products on the SelectScience website. A seal is awarded in line with strict criteria based on the quantity of reviews a product receives, and the average rating of those reviews. 
BioTek is a global designer, manufacturer and distributor of innovative life-sciences instrumentation, with a product line that includes cell-imaging systems, microplate readers, washers, dispensers, automated incubators, stackers and pipetting systems for high-performance, cost-effective analysis and quantification of biomolecules, biomolecular interactions and cellular structure and function across diverse applications.
New StarDrop interface aids structure-activity work
CAMBRIDGE, U.K.—On June 27, small-molecule drug discovery software maker Optibrium announced the launch of version 6.4 of the StarDrop platform. The latest release includes the universal Pose Generation Interface, which is said to seamlessly link expertly prepared docking and alignment models with StarDrop’s comprehensive environment for small-molecule design, optimization and data analysis. The integration of this three-dimensional information with analyses based on two-dimensional structure reportedly ensures that scientists can quickly understand structure-activity relationships, identify potential liabilities and design new compounds with the highest chance of success.
The new Pose Generation Interface also supports collaboration between computational and medicinal chemists, making routine 3D modeling accessible to all decision-makers and leading to better decisions and shorter project timelines. As the company notes, “Medicinal chemists can evaluate multiple iterations of designs in real time and inspect returned poses to give an understanding of important binding interactions, while also considering data from experiments and other predictive methods in a single, elegant environment.”
Computational chemists, meanwhile, can make their validated 3D models available to colleagues via the new interface, giving them greater opportunity to focus on expert computational design and model building rather than routine calculations. Theoretically, only the most relevant compounds will then go on for further specialist computational evaluation, having a positive impact on project efficiency and progression.
StarDrop’s Pose Generation Interface is compatible with software from major computational chemistry providers, including BioSolveIT, Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre, Chemical Computing Group and OpenEye Scientific.
“We recognize that scientists often have preferred software with which to perform docking and alignment calculations,” said Dr. Matthew Segall, Optibrium’s CEO. “We have developed StarDrop 6.4 to be ‘open’ and not restricted to any specific method. This latest release further shows StarDrop’s capability to support discovery projects from end-to-end, fully integrating into a client’s computational chemistry and informatics infrastructure.”
Panasonic announces partnership with ENERGY STAR
WOOD DALE, Ill.—Panasonic Healthcare Corp. of North America recently affirmed a corporate commitment to protect the environment by becoming an ENERGY STAR partner. This voluntary partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program means that Panasonic Healthcare will continue to devote resources to designing products that help customers improve energy efficiency without compromising critical performance parameters associated with biological specimens, vaccines and other high-value materials common to the life-sciences industry.
Panasonic Healthcare has certified several high-performance, laboratory-grade refrigeration products to the ENERGY STAR requirements—specifically, it has now earned ENERGY STAR certification for a range of high-performance biomedical refrigerators and freezers that operate over a range of 10°C to -30°C—and plans are in place to continue to add to this partnership. Panasonic Healthcare has, according to President Hans Brok, been a leader in developing ENERGY STAR criteria and evaluation processes in service to the nation’s scientific and laboratory research community.
“This effort is a milestone for Panasonic Healthcare’s Biomedical Business Unit, which celebrates 50 years of innovation in the life sciences and is known as being one of the most reliable, energy-efficient healthcare solutions providers in the world,” said Brok.
Sera Prognostics announces published validation study
SALT LAKE CITY—Sera Prognostics Inc., a women’s healthcare company, announced in June that its recent analytical study, “Analytical Validation of Protein Biomarkers for Risk of Spontaneous Preterm Birth,” had been published in the June issue of Clinical Mass Spectrometry. The study details a rigorous analytical validation of Sera’s liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS) platform for sensitive later-generation Agilent mass spectrometers.  This work confirms Sera’s ability, across instrument generations, to perform accurate analytical measurements required to provide individualized determination of a woman’s risk of spontaneous early delivery through Sera’s groundbreaking PreTRM test. The PreTRM test is said to be the first and only broadly clinically validated blood test that provides an early and individualized prediction of preterm birth risk.
“The Clinical Mass Spectrometry analytical validation paper highlights the strong science and rigorous analytical process discipline that underpins Sera’s commercial PreTRM testing. It further demonstrates the robustness of our LC/MS technology platform,” said Dr. Gregory C. Critchfield, chairman and CEO of Sera. “Sera’s high-performing analytical platform accurately measures important biomarkers that are highly predictive of spontaneous premature delivery, a prerequisite for addressing the enormous global challenges of prematurity.”

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