Swiss design and Arizona necessity converge

Tecan collaborates with TGen and ASU Biodesign Institute on comprehensive sample preparation solution for proteomic research

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MÄNNEDORF,Switzerland—With its Freedom EVO 200 liquid handling platform as thefoundation, Tecan Trading AG has collaborated with the Translational Genomics ResearchInstitute (TGen) in Phoenix, Ariz., and the Biodesign Institute at ArizonaState University to create a new automated sample preparation system forproteomic biomarker discovery and validation.
TGen initiatedthe collaboration, says Dr. Konstantinos Petritis, head of the institute'sCenter for Proteomics, adding that "one of the missions of TGen's Center forProteomics is to build an 'industry-scale' biomarker discovery andverification/validation pipeline. It became apparent very quickly that one ofthe bottlenecks is sample preparation, especially for labs involved withclinical proteomics. There was no commercial solution out there that couldachieve the throughput required in a comprehensive and flexible way.
TGen and ASUstarted working on the device specifications and then involved Tecan, whohandled, among other functions, the integration of all the components."
The fullyautomated system developed through the collaboration is said to be a key toolin the shared goal of TGen and ASU to establish an industrial-scale biomarkervalidation facility, in part because the platform can prepare nearly 1,000samples in less than 24 hours. It does so in the SISCAPA (stable isotopestandards with capture by anti-peptide antibody) workflow, and the turnaroundtime encompasses everything from receiving samples in cryovials to elutingselected peptides into 96-well plates ready for analysis by mass spectrometry.
"Duringbiomarker discovery, we work with 20 to 100 samples, but once we haveidentified potential biomarkers, verification and clinical validation must be performed,where the challenge is to process hundreds, perhaps thousands, of samples,"notes Petritis, who along with Dr. Mark Holl and Dr. Deirdre Meldrum of theBiodesign Institute provided scientific leadership for the integrated system specification andmulti-vendor process in the collaboration—marking the first time TGen and Tecanhave worked together to build a custom platform. "One of Tecan's greateststrengths was undoubtedly the ease with which it seamlessly brought everythingtogether. Sample preparation is a critical yet extremely long, multi-stage andlabor-intensive process that must be performed reproducibly. The Tecan systemis a comprehensive and flexible proteomic sample preparation platform thatsuccessfully integrates and controls many different modules from a range ofvendors."
Although thesystem was customized for TGen's needs, Petritis notes that Tecan could buildthe same system or one very much like it for any other organization or groupthat might be interested, and he counts laboratories that deal withhigh-throughput proteomics or need to automate sample preparation solutions aslikely potential customers for such systems.
"Thisfunctionality is especially needed for large-scale biomarker verification andvalidation studies," he says.
Tecan toutsitself as a leading global provider of laboratory instruments and solutions inbiopharmaceuticals, clinical diagnostics and forensics and clinical diagnosticsand specializes in the development, production and distribution of instrumentsand automated workflow solutions for laboratories in the life sciences sector.Founded in Switzerland in 1980, the company has manufacturing, research anddevelopment sites in both Europe and North America and maintains a sales andservice network in 52 countries, boasting 2009 sales of $361.2 million.
TGen dedicates its efforts "to conducting groundbreaking research withlife-changing results" and focuses on such diseases as cancer, neurologicaldisorders and diabetes in particular, "on the cutting edge of translationalresearch where investigators are able to unravel the genetic components ofcommon and complex diseases." For its part, the
  Biodesign Institute addresses global challenges in healthcare,sustainability and security by developing solutions "inspired from naturalsystems and translating those solutions into commercially viable products andclinical practices."

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