On the cutting edge

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

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MADISON, Wis.—To begin this month’s roundup of tools and technology news, we have a high-throughput screening (HTS)-compatible biochemical assay, which researchers at BellBrook Labs have developed to discover and advance small-molecule modulators for the target cyclic GMP-AMP synthase (cGAS). The Transcreener cGAMP cGAS Assay directly detects cyclic GMP-AMP (cGAMP), the product of a cGAS reaction, allowing researchers to monitor cGAS activity with simple mix-and-read fluorescent detection.
The presence of DNA in the cytosol of eukaryotic cells is an indicator of infection or cellular damage, and it elicits a strong innate immune response. cGAS triggers this response to cytoplasmic DNA by producing the dinucleotide second messenger cGAMP, which activates the stimulator of interferon genes (STING) receptor, leading to a type I interferon response. Recent studies suggest the cGAS-STING pathway is a promising area for therapeutics targeting autoimmune disease and cancer.
The Transcreener cGAMP cGAS Assay uses a highly specific antibody for cGAMP and a fluorescent tracer. cGAMP displaces the tracer from the antibody, resulting in a robust fluorescent polarization readout. Along with basic cGAS research, including enzymology and regulation, the new assay is designed for miniaturized 384- or 1536-well formats and, the company says, is “perfect” for HTS. It is said to also have great utility for structure-activity relationship (SAR) and follow-up studies, providing accurate dose-response measurements, mechanism of action studies and determination of inhibitor residence times using jump-dilution kinetics. Based on the proven Transcreener platform, the assay has been extensively validated for HTS, SAR and mechanism of action studies with human and mouse cGAS in BellBrook’s internal discovery program.
High praise for VIAFLO 96/384
ZÜRICH, Switzerland—Researchers at the University of Zurich in Switzerland have chosen INTEGRA’s VIAFLO 96/384 multichannel electronic pipette to streamline the experimental workflow of studies on Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacterium that commonly infects individuals with lung conditions such as cystic fibrosis.
“We recently completed an evolutionary experiment on Pseudomonas, to understand how a specific siderophore—a molecule which binds and transports iron in microorganisms—assists its ability to infect other organisms, and how environmental conditions affect the production of this compound,” explained Alexandre Figueiredo, a Ph.D. student in the university’s Department of Plant and Microbial Biology. “The media for culturing different populations needed changing frequently, and so we required a system to make this workflow more efficient. I opted for the VIAFLO 96/384 after seeing my colleagues using it successfully for high-throughput screening applications.”
“We used the VIAFLO 96/384 for filling plates with sterilized media, conducting serial transfers, diluting cell populations and transferring cultures to fresh media every two days throughout the seven-month experiment. The ability to perform simultaneous pipetting of up to 96 or 384 samples saved us so much time; it only took one to two hours to do everything, compared to six to eight hours manually. We also used the automated mixing feature, which saved further time, increasing our efficiency—and, importantly, standardized our method, because manual mixing procedures are never as reproducible. Overall, the system is very intuitive, and you can easily load the pipette heads on and off. I think it’s very well designed,” concluded Figueiredo.
Thermo Fisher introduces Mass Frontier 8.0
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Brought together by Thermo Fisher Scientific’s continuing 20-year collaboration with HighChem, Thermo Scientific Mass Frontier 8.0 software enables analysts to rapidly deconvolute and search information-rich, MSn mass spectrometric data produced during the identification and structural characterization of small-molecule unknown compounds and their fragments. Thermo Fisher showcased its latest chromatography and mass spectrometry solutions at the 12th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, held in November in Washington, D.C.
“Small-molecule unknown compound identification and analysis using mass spectrometry generates large quantities of complex data, which is labor intensive and time-consuming to process and confidently turn into knowledge,” said Iain Mylchreest, vice president of research and development for analytical instruments at Thermo Fisher Scientific. “Through its powerful algorithms and fully curated knowledge databases of spectral and fragmentation data that covers 95 percent of all published fragmentation pathways, Mass Frontier 8.0 software accelerates small-molecule characterization.”
The Mass Frontier 8.0 software enables scientists to go from complex data to actionable, sharable insights by: making unknowns known through searching deconvoluted components against mzCloud, the world’s most comprehensive mass-spectral database; providing confidence in data through access to a fragmentation library of more than 52,000 schemes, all of which are curated from peer-reviewed scientific papers; building pathways to knowledge with access to the Metabolika biological pathway database, providing 370 curated biochemical pathways with annotated reactions and corresponding metadata for various organisms; and constructing, storing and managing spectral libraries using the data manager software, providing the ability to share this knowledge across a network or organization.
“We have been using the Mass Frontier software for over 10 years in the UC Davis Fiehn Lab, and think every mass spectrometrist should have a copy of Mass Frontier software,” added Dr. Tobias Kind of the University of California, Davis. “The functionality of mzCloud integration, as well as the look and design, is well organized and intuitive.”
In combination with the Thermo Scientific Orbitrap ID-X Tribrid Mass Spectrometer supporting the Thermo Scientific AquireX intelligent MSn data acquisition strategy, Mass Frontier 8.0 software can be used to capture more low-abundance analytes through streamlined data analysis and mass spectral prediction tools. This eliminates the labor-intensive and time-consuming steps analysts face when identifying small molecules and their respective fragments using traditional solutions.
A digital marketplace for life-science products
SAN DIEGO—In December, Labviva, an AI-powered digital marketplace for life-science reagents, instrumentation and services, announced its launch with the goal of creating scientifically informed purchasing decisions. The Labviva marketplace curates and connects relevant information for buyers to have the insight needed to choose the right reagents, instrumentation and service in the context of the science they do, as part of a seamless purchasing experience and integration with their eProcurement platforms.
“We recognize the critical need to connect buyers and suppliers of scientific products in a new way, with scientific data and product validation information to inform meaningful choice across a broad spectrum of products for better purchasing decisions, as well as liberation from time-consuming product research tasks,” commented Labviva co-founder and CEO Dr. Siamak Baharloo. “The large R&D organizations that consume life-science products and purchase them through eProcurement platforms see Labviva as transformative in facilitating onboarding of a large number of suppliers, both large and small, onto an eProcurement system, while providing enriched product content and efficient search capabilities across an entire purchasing portfolio.”
Labviva’s comprehensive listing of 500,000+ products from hundreds of manufacturers and suppliers offers application and protocol-driven bundling of products into complementary portfolios. Its powerful search capabilities generate visibility for product selection viewed by price, availability, workflow and scientific relevance, with links to more than100,000 peer-reviewed papers and 7,000 experimental protocols.
“It is important to be able to browse and make purchasing decisions based on a product’s relevance to real-world applications, like up-to-date protocols and peer-reviewed literature,” added Dr. Mike O’Donnell, postdoctoral researcher at Brandeis University. “Finding the right product to meet my specific application needs is a burden requiring many hours spent on database searches, visits to vendor websites and review of literature. Labviva has greatly simplified this process by providing a single access point to all available information so I can make the right product choices quickly and reliably, freeing my time to be spent on what matters the most—my research.”

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