Improving accuracy and reproducibility in microRNA-based diagnostics
MiRXES’ first cancer diagnostic kit, GASTROClear, is a blood test for early detection of gastric cancer in high-risk populations. Adam Chiow, Senior Research Officer at MiRXES, explained: “We receive patient samples from collaborators in hospitals and research labs in both Singapore and overseas. These samples are typically serum or plasma, but can also be tissues, from which we isolate the microRNA, then perform reverse-transcription and PCR to identify biomarker levels of the samples. We use the VOYAGER adjustable tip spacing pipette to perform the diagnostic assay, as we need to transfer samples from 96 to 384 well formats, so the adjustable channels fit our workflow perfectly.”
Adam continued: “We are also developing a new kit, the ID3EAL PanoramiR Knowledge Panel, which will be able to determine the levels of different microRNAs in a person’s body. For this assay, we load several samples into a 96 well column format, then we use the ASSIST PLUS pipetting robot – together with the VOYAGER – to load the samples onto the assay plate in a protected environment, to prevent contamination. The VIALAB pipette automation software for the ASSIST PLUS allows us to program the SOP into the pipette, so the steps are carried out the same way every time. We found the programming very easy to learn. Automating the workflow in this way cuts down on manpower needed to run the assay, and ensures that the samples are loaded accurately and reproducibly. This removes the chance of human error affecting the PCR results. We find that one person is able to complete the plate, seal it, and load it into the PCR machine in the same amount of time that it takes for the PCR machine to analyze a plate, making it an almost continuous process.”
“In addition to the VOYAGER and ASSIST PLUS, we have chosen INTEGRA’s VIAFLO 96 and VIAFLO 384 handheld multichannel pipettes for our high throughput work, as the multidispense function allows us to pipette a large volume, then dispense a specific volume multiple times. INTEGRA offers us great local support with the equipment and with supplying tips, and we haven’t met any bottlenecks or supply delays, which is very important to keep the lab running smoothly,” Adam concluded.