On the cutting edge

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

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In this month’s look at notable tools and technology developments and deals, we bring you next-generation sequencing, a molecular analysis platform for antimicrobial research, an automated sample preparation platform based on magnetic beads and microfluidics, a new platform to optimize clinical processes and a tracking tool for radiologic requirements.

Roche acquires rights to AbVitro technology and patent applications
PLEASANTON, Calif.—Roche announced recently that it had made a technology acquisition from AbVitro Inc., a company focused on therapeutic target discovery, whereby it obtained exclusive rights to a primer extension-based target enrichment (PETE) technology and associated patent applications filed by AbVitro. Under the terms of the agreement, AbVitro and Roche scientists will collaborate on the development and application of the technology.
The PETE technology will be used to support next-generation sequencing directly from blood or other biological samples, which Roche calls “a key advantage for clinical sequencing applications.” The PETE technology will be incorporated into Roche’s Sequencing Unit R&D pipeline to support the strategy of providing a full next-generation sequencing workflow solution for clinical sequencing.
“The potential of this technology will allow Roche to optimize our sequencing portfolio to provide a full workflow solution for our customers,” said Dan Zabrowski, head of Roche Tissue Diagnostics and the Sequencing Unit. “Sequencing is transforming the understanding among researchers and clinicians of how genomics will impact health. We look forward to advancing this technology in order to streamline sequencing methods for easy-to-use clinical applications.”
“We are excited by Roche’s acquisition of our primer extension-based target enrichment and the prospect of continued collaboration to develop the technology further. This technology surpasses current industry standards, and we believe Roche to be incredibly well positioned to create a true disruption in the next-generation sample prep market,” said Dr. Francois Vigneault, president, chief scientific officer and founder of AbVitro.
Financial terms of the collaboration were not disclosed.

Spinomix granted new patents for MagPhase technology
LAUSANNE, Switzerland—In mid-October, Spinomix SA, a Swiss technology platform company providing innovative sample processing solutions to the life-sciences sector, announced the issuance of two U.S. patents, US 8,585,279 and US 8,870,446, relating to the manipulation and mixing of magnetic particles in microfluidics environments.
Spinomix’s proprietary technology MagPhase has also been granted protection in China and Japan and is in its final granting stages in Europe. These “highly strategic” patents raise the company’s MagPhase U.S.-granted patent portfolio to three patents; three others are still pending approval.
“This new patent grant is of great strategic importance for Spinomix since it confirms the originality of our method and its capability of leveraging the great applications possible with magnetic beads-based assays and their easy automation using microfluidic based systems,” said Amar Rida, founder and chief technology officer of Spinomix. “Our company is continuously committed to innovation in order to provide the marketplace with novel solutions capable of shortening the path between sample collection and results analysis.”
The company’s goal with MagPhase is to bring affordable and flexible automation to every laboratory bench. The technology is being developed for life-science research as well as applications which are critical for treatment decisions, such as circulation tumor nucleic acids for cancer diagnosis or cell isolation in regenerative medicine.
“Our vision is to expand our microfluidics cartridges to all of the currently available applications of magnetic beads, such as protein purification, cell isolation and others. We are already applying our technology to nucleic acid purification, a market estimated to be well over $1 billion,” said Spinomix CEO Nasri Nahas.

Princeton acquires Protea’s LAESI platform
MORGANTOWN, W.Va.—Protea Biosciences Group Inc. announced Oct. 15 that Princeton University has purchased its LAESI DP-1000 Instrument System for direct molecular analysis. The system will be used in Princeton’s Frick Chemistry Laboratory for the screening of microbial samples to identify new molecular entities that may hold promise as new antimicrobial therapeutics.
“Bacteria use a wide range of small molecules to detect and respond to their environment and to communicate, collaborate or compete with other microbes. The small molecules underlying this complex chemical language, their functions and biosynthetic pathways, comprise the primary focus of our research efforts, and Protea’s DP-1000 system is an ideal analytical tool that will benefit various aspects of our work,” stated Dr. Mohammad Seyedsayamdost, associate professor of chemistry at Princeton. “This group of small molecules has traditionally served as a prolific source of drugs or drug leads; therefore, our studies will also aim to identify therapeutically useful small molecules.”
The LAESI DP-1000 Instrument System allows the direct identification of molecules in living cells and microbial samples, with analysis reportedly completed in seconds to minutes.

TriCore uses ‘big data’ to tackle ‘triple aim’ healthcare problem
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.—In early November, TriCore Reference Laboratories announced that it is working with Wave, the Salesforce Analytics Cloud, to develop an integrated medical platform that can display chronological health data in order to optimize clinical processes. With Wave, TriCore aims to better assist physicians to order the right test, for the right patient, at the right time to achieve three fundamental goals: improve medical outcomes, improve quality of care and help reduce unnecessary procedural and therapeutic costs.
This uniquely positions TriCore to provide solutions in population health management and targeted intervention through diagnostic data, the Albuquerque-based laboratory maintains, and Wave will arm patients and clinical decision-makers with timely and meaningful data to improve community health while reducing cost. This scalable platform, powered by Wave, enables various stakeholders to access appropriate data at the point of decision.

Diagnostic Imaging releases interactive tool
NORWALK, Conn.—UBM Medica US announced recently that Diagnostic Imaging, a leading online community for medical imaging professionals, is offering a special tool for tracking requirements for general radiologic technologists across the United States. This tool allows users to identify states that have no requirements for radiologic technologists, certification and licensure requirements per state for radiologic technologists and educational requirements per state for radiologic technologists.

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