On the cutting edge

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

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Kicking off this month’s tour through recent news of important tools of the trade in pharma and life sciences, we have a pair of news items from California-based Bio-Rad Laboratories Inc., both antibody-related. First and most recently, on May 23, the global provider of life-sciences research and clinical diagnostic products announced the launch of a range of anti-idiotypic antibodies targeting the immune checkpoint inhibitor drugs pembrolizumab (Keytruda) and nivolumab (Opdivo). Anti-pembrolizumab and anti-nivolumab antibodies are designed for use in bioanalytical assays to monitor the drug levels in cancer patients.
“We are pleased to introduce three anti-pembrolizumab and five anti-nivolumab recombinant monoclonal anti-idiotypic antibodies, each of which are highly specific for pembrolizumab and nivolumab, respectively,” said Amanda Turner, Bio-Rad product manager in the Life Science Group. “The antibodies are ideal for the development of pharmacokinetic bridging ELISAs, as well as for use as reference standards in anti-drug antibody assays.”
Just a hair over a week before that, the company also announced the release of a range of anti-vedolizumab antibodies. Vedolizumab (Entyvio) is a monoclonal antibody that is used to treat ulcerative colitis (inflammatory bowel disease) and Crohn’s disease. Bio-Rad’s anti-vedolizumab antibodies, which support research into the treatment of these diseases, include four recombinant monoclonal anti-idiotypic antibodies that are highly specific for the humanized IgG1 kappa antibody drug, vedolizumab, and are suitable for development of bioanalytical and patient monitoring assays.
“[The] anti-vedolizumab antibodies [are] an exciting addition to Bio-Rad’s industry-leading portfolio of anti-biotherapeutic antibodies,” said Turner. “We are now able to offer a reliable source of antibodies for the development of bioanalytical assays for vedolizumab, to support research into the treatment of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.”

Economical and reliable multi-mode microplate reader
WINOOSKI, Vt.—BioTek Instruments Inc. recently introduced the Synergy LX Multi-Mode Microplate Reader to automate the most common microplate-based assays, saying that its “high-quality, unique dual-optics design enables absorbance, fluorescence and luminescence measurements without compromising performance or budget.”
The 200-999 nm range encompasses a broad range of UV-Vis absorbance assays, including 2 µL measurements when used with the Take3 Micro-Volume Plate. Filter and dichroic cubes are easily exchanged to enable multiple applications in fluorescence intensity and luminescence. The large touchscreen allows both easy operation and immediate data display, and with one touch, data is output to a USB flash drive for further analysis in Gen5 Software. Synergy LX is modular, allowing detection modules to be added as needed, and is affordable for most laboratory budgets.
“There are many multi-mode microplate readers on the market, but Synergy LX was designed specifically for the most common endpoint applications—such as nucleic acid and protein quantification, ELISA and cell viability assays—with an interface that is simple to navigate,” says Gary Barush, BioTek’s global director of marketing and sales.

Hamilton and Waters collaborate on STARWorks
RENO, Nev. & MILFORD, Mass.—Early June saw Hamilton Robotics and Waters Corp. further extend their collaborative goal of streamlining biopharmaceutical sample preparation workflows with the launch of STARWorks for Waters. By integrating liquid handling expertise with in-depth sample preparation chemistry knowledge from the respective companies, these assay-ready workstations are said to maximize sensitive and robust results while minimizing variability and manual interventions. STARWorks for Waters GlycoWorks and STARWorks for Waters ProteinWorks are specifically pre-configured and qualified to automate sample preparation of up to 96 samples at once, using the GlycoWorks RapiFluor-MS N-Glycan and ProteinWorks Auto-eXpress Digest assay kits, respectively, prior to LC-MS analysis.
STARWorks for Waters will be co-promoted by Hamilton Robotics and Waters, and a single, localized point of contact will enable customers to seamlessly integrate the assay ready workstations into their laboratory, while conveniently leveraging the respective expertise and services of each company.

Interpret variants of any size
EL SEGUNDO, Calif.—BioDiscovery Inc., a developer of integrated software solutions for genomics data analysis, recently launched NxClinical 4.1, designed for integration of copy number, sequence variants, and allelic changes obtained from microarray and next-generation sequencing technologies. NxClinical 4.1 is said to allow combined analysis and interpretation of all genomic variants on a single, platform-agnostic system. New features include enhancements to the sequence variant interpretation engine, filtering schemas to further narrow the list of causative variants, trio/family analysis and support for the latest technologies, including Illumina Infinium Global Screening Array and Thermo Fisher CytoScan XON Suite.
“We are excited to be at the forefront of the rapidly evolving nature of this field,” said Dr. Soheil Shams, president of BioDiscovery. “Typically, large and small variations have been analyzed via different software, pipelines and departments, but various factions are starting to merge together. NxClinical incorporates multiple technologies and platforms and allows interpretation of genomic variants of any size from single nucleotide to large copy number changes. The software also detects copy number and AOH from sequencing data, allowing labs to consolidate tests to a single assay. NxClinical 4.1 adds improvements to many areas of the software, including trio analysis allowing extended family support and single recessive inheritance test for compound CNV and sequence variant events, as well as identification of parent of origin for UPD and CNV events.”

Taconic licenses Easi-CRISPR technology
RENSSELAER, N.Y.—In mid-April, Taconic Biosciences, a provider of genetically engineered mouse model and service solutions, was granted a license to the Easi-CRISPR technology from the University of Nebraska.
Easi-CRISPR was developed in the laboratories of Drs. Masato Ohtsuka (Tokai University in Japan) and Channabasavaiah Gurumurthy (University of Nebraska). The terms of the agreement include a worldwide, non-exclusive license to the technology, allowing Taconic rights to generate and sell rodent models generated via Easi-CRISPR. When compared to traditional CRISPR, Easi-CRISPR reportedly represents a significant advantage, allowing researchers to perform whole genetic insertions rather than being limited to point mutations and constitutive knockouts.
“Easi-CRISPR is the next progression of the revolutionary CRISPR/Cas technology. Combining the speed of CRISPR with larger genetic insertions allows complex projects typically requiring homologous recombination techniques to reduce project timelines by six months. In an industry where time is a precious resource, access to this technology underscores Taconic’s commitment to providing our customers with the best solutions,” said John Couse, vice president of scientific services of Taconic Biosciences.

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