On the cutting edge

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

Mel J. Yeates
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For this month’s roundup of tools and technology news, we have Photothermal Spectroscopy Corp (PSC) announcing a partnership with Bio-Rad Laboratories Inc., Biorelate Ltd. launching a tool for accelerated research intelligence, and Rigaku Corp. presenting its sixth-generation Rigaku MiniFlex benchtop XRD at the 2019 Materials Science and Technology meeting. Also, the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) recently disseminated its BioStreamline project results.

Photothermal Spectroscopy partners with Bio-Rad
SANTA BARBARA & HERCULES, Calif.—Photothermal Spectroscopy (PSC) and Bio-Rad announced a partnership last month in which PSC will bundle Bio-Rad’s IR and Raman Library and Identification software with PSC’s instruments.
The partnership offers customers of both companies a dual-technique analysis that uses PSC’s breakthrough Optical Photothermal IR Spectroscopy (O-PTIR) technique. The O-PTIR technique offers simultaneous sub-micron measurement of IR and Raman spectra via their mIRage+R Infrared and Raman Microscope. Used with Bio-Rad’s KnowItAll software, the combination offers simultaneous searching of IR and Raman spectral databases for compound identification, providing researchers the ability to increase their efficiency, accuracy and overall confidence in results.
As part of the agreement, PSC will bundle a one-year subscription to Bio-Rad’s KnowItAll IR/Raman Identification Pro, providing customers access to Bio-Rad’s entire IR and Raman libraries with every PSC instrument and the ability to identify spectra with patented tools and spectral reference data.
“Ultimately, the critical aspect of identifying unknowns is having confidence in your selection as the best match,” said Dr. Mustafa Kansiz, director of product management at PSC. “Now, two complementary spectra—IR and Raman, collected simultaneously—can be used for that purpose, with one confirming the other to give more accurate and confident identification. Hence, we describe the techniques as complementary and confirmatory. We are delighted to work with Bio-Rad in this endeavor.”

Biorelate goes Galactic
MANCHESTER, U.K. & SAN DIEGO—Another October news item brought word that Biorelate had launched its proprietary tool for accelerated research intelligence, Galactic, at BioData World West 2019. Galactic uses artificial intelligence to auto-curate knowledge from over 30 million biomedical research text sources, to help make sense of the unstructured data and generate a clear view of the true state of research.
Users can customize their experience by incorporating their own documents with publicly available data. Through Galactic’s tailored portals, users can find research, information and hidden insights, and make hypotheses and predictions while saving significant time and resources.
To better understand the problems currently faced by the R&D industry, Biorelate engaged early adopters from a variety of research positions. A collaboration with the McCann Health Global Scientific Council and the CMC Connect division of the McCann Health Medical Communications team focused on tackling issues with accessing information from the literature, including addressing the major pain points associated with systematic and pragmatic reviews.
Cell and Gene Therapy (CGT) Catapult is at the forefront of the U.K. cell and gene therapy industry and has identified the potential of using AI and this platform within this space. The CGT Catapult team has helped in the optimization of Galactic, making it a reliable source to track the latest developments in gene therapy across the United Kingdom. They were the first users of the final product.
Biorelate has also worked with ApconiX and used Galactic in supporting Acuity Target Safety Assessments developed by project toxicologists. A recent report by ApconiX concluded that the use of AI to access a comprehensive dataset provides an excellent starting point for the expert toxicologist to interpret the data, indicate key risks and propose a risk-mitigation plan.
“The collaboration with Biorelate has been extremely productive, and we look forward to working together on future developments,” added Prof. Ruth Roberts, co-founder and director of ApconiX.

Rigaku presents latest MiniFlex XRD
PORTLAND, Ore.—Rigaku recently jetted to the U.S. Pacific Northwest to attend the 2019 Materials Science and Technology meeting in Portland and present its latest X-ray analytical instrumentation, the sixth-generation Rigaku MiniFlex benchtop XRD instrument.
The new MiniFlex X-ray diffractometer is a multipurpose analytical instrument that can determine phase identification and quantification, percent crystallinity, crystallite size and strain, lattice parameter refinement, Rietveld refinement and molecular structure. The latest MiniFlex delivers speed and sensitivity through innovative technology advances, including the HyPix-400 MF 2D hybrid pixel array detector, together with an available 600 W X-ray source and new 8-position automatic sample changer.
Rigaku provides a complete line of X-ray analytical equipment, including benchtop X-ray diffraction and X-ray fluorescence systems, X-ray optics and detectors, single crystal diffractometers for chemical crystallography, multi-purpose diffractometers with small-angle X-ray scattering and in-plane capabilities, and high-powered wavelength dispersive X-ray fluorescence spectrometers.

CPI shares results of BioStreamline
WILTON, U.K.—CPI recently disseminated the results of the £11.2-million BioStreamline project to optimize the development of novel biotherapeutics. The project focused on accelerating the discovery and development of monoclonal antibodies, and aimed to overcome key bottlenecks in the biologics supply chain.
The collaborative project brought together a number of partner organizations, including Lonza Biologics, UCB Celltech, Sphere Fluidics Ltd, Horizon Discovery Group plc, Alcyomics Ltd and CPI. Funding was provided by the UK government’s Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative.
On June 26, a number of results from the project were showcased, along with discussion of the potential impact on overcoming some of the most significant shortcomings of the biologics supply chain.
One of the key deliverables of the project was the development of Sphere Fluidics’ Cyto-Mine Single Cell Analysis System and its associated workflows. The microfluidic picodroplet technology of Cyto-Mine enables the screening of B-cells during antibody discovery and analysis of antibody-producing clones for selection of high-producing cell lines during cell line development. Cyto-Mine has now been supplied to international biopharma companies and contract manufacturing organizations and is currently producing promising results in reducing cell line development timelines.
“The development of the Cyto-Mine platform provides the crucial acceleration needed in monoclonal antibody development and production. Deploying Cyto-Mine in the biologics area significantly improves efficiencies and reduces timelines in the development workflow, and therefore will boost the entry of biologics into the supply chain. Overall, this has the potential to have a huge impact on the way biotherapeutics are produced in the U.K.,” mentioned Dr. Rob Marchmont, vice president of sales and marketing at Sphere Fluidics.
Another key deliverable has been in the expression and purification of more than 50 monoclonal antibodies using industry-leading platforms. The biochemical, biophysical and stability data collected on each of these molecules has contributed to the design of a “developability” tool which will enable more accurate decision-making during process development. These methodologies could also be applicable to other emerging therapeutic modalities like antibody drug conjugates, bispecifics and viral vectors.

Mel J. Yeates

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