On the cutting edge

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

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As you may have noticed elsewhere in this issue of DDNews, we’ve picked up our coverage of instrumentation, software and other technology offerings. Going forward, you will continue to see Tools & Technology-marked items in various sections of the magazine, but you will most consistently see it here in the Business & Government Policy section in the successors to this inaugural roundup you’re reading now.

Agilent and Shimadzu enable control of each other’s GC instruments
SANTA CLARA, Calif. & KYOTO, Japan—Agilent Technologies Inc. and Shimadzu Corp. recently announced the release of GC instrument control for their respective chromatography data systems (CDS). This provides customers in analytical laboratories with more freedom of choice when selecting a CDS.
Agilent has released drivers for Shimadzu GC-2010, GC-2010 Plus and GC-2014 integrating to Agilent’s OpenLAB CDS, and Shimadzu has released drivers to control Agilent 6890, 6850, 7820 and 7890 GC instruments in Shimadzu’s LabSolutions. These releases are the result of the joint collaboration—employing RapidControl (RC.NET) instrument drivers—announced in May 2013 to preserve customers’ investments in workflows and operating procedures.
“Agilent continues to follow an open systems approach for the laboratory to deliver value to our customers,” said Bruce von Herrmann, vice president and general manager of Agilent’s Software and Informatics Business. “To reduce costs and enhance the customer experience, we are working with other manufacturers like Shimadzu to enable full and reliable control of lab instrumentation from any CDS.”
“The adoption and support of RC.NET drivers provide a more integrated solution to customers who require a single CDS product to support seamless multivendor control of all instruments in their laboratory,” added Masahito Ueda, Shimadzu general manager of GC & TA Business Unit, Analytical & Measuring Instruments Division.

Easier diagnosis of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease discovered
ORTENBERG, Germany—BMG Labtech announced in August that, for the first time, a noninvasive and easy-to-perform test allows early diagnosis of the fatal neurodegenerative Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) on living patients. Until now, a clear diagnosis in living patients was a major challenge as the presence of the responsible pathogenic, the prion protein, could only be detected after a brain biopsy or autopsy.
A new, noninvasive procedure, based on the analysis of samples obtained from patient nasal brushings, reportedly proves to be an accurate and reliable diagnose of CJD. Researchers from Byron Caughey’s group at Rocky Mountain Laboratories previously developed a test for the detection of prion proteins, the real-time quaking-induced conversion (RT-QuIC), on BMG Labtech’s FLUOstar Omega microplate reader. The development of a prion detection test that could be measured on a microplate reader increased throughput and decreased detection time.
Still, this test could be only applied to samples obtained from brain biopsies. In cooperation with the laboratory of Gianluigi Zanusso at the University of Verona in Italy, the RT-QuIC test has been applied on samples collected from brushings of the olfactory epithelium, a far-less-invasive procedure that can also be applied to living patients. The test on nasal brushings had a sensitivity of 97 percent and tested positive in 30/31 patients with CJD and negative in all (43/43) healthy patients.

PositiveID touts Firefly prototype device
DELRAY BEACH, Fla.—PositiveID Corp., a developer of biological detection and diagnostics solutions, has announced that its Firefly Dx system, designed to deliver molecular diagnostic results rapidly at the point of need, which could be used to detect Ebola and other biological threats, was recently featured in Computerworld.
PositiveID’s Firefly Dx is a point-of-need, handheld system designed to deliver molecular diagnostic results using real-time TaqMan PCR (polymerase chain reaction) chemistry. Firefly is being developed to meet the growing need in healthcare and molecular diagnostics markets for more rapid and accurate point-of-need diagnostics. Firefly can derive results from a sample in less than 20 minutes, compared to two to four hours for a lab device, which would enable accurate diagnostics and lead to more rapid and effective treatment than what is currently available.

Qlucore Omics Explorer simplifies RNA-seq analysis
LUND, Sweden—In recent years, according to Qlucore AB, transcriptomic profiling via next-generation sequencing (RNA-seq) has emerged as both a technical and cost-effective alternative to arrays. Qlucore Omics Explorer 3.0 supports direct import and normalization of RNA-seq data (aligned BAM files), which makes it easier to analyze digital gene expression data. Reportedly, with only a few mouse clicks, the discriminating genes are identified and results are available in publication ready lists and plots, using Qlucore’s next-generation bioinformatics software. Using Qlucore Omics Explorer, RNAseq data can now be analyzed just as easily as microarray data, according to the company. These files can be directly imported and normalized and then functionality from heatmaps to statistical filters and PCA plots is available.

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