Clinical trials for many degenerative neurological disorders – such as ALS, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s – require potential candidates to undergo a PET scan prior to enrolment, to allow the detection of amyloid deposits in the brain. This is both time-consuming and resource-intensive, making it inconvenient for potential candidates and very expensive for trial sponsors. The Roberts Lab at Emory University School of Medicine is hoping to overcome this hurdle with a simple blood test designed to detect biomarkers indicative of amyloid deposit formation. This new approach could help to identify degenerative neurological disorders more quickly and easily, as well as accelerating – and lowering the cost of – the pre-trial screening process to speed up the development of new therapeutics.
Time is money
Developing any new biomarker assay requires large-scale testing with real patient samples, in order to ensure the accuracy and efficacy of the test. This is even more important for neurodegenerative disorders, which are often difficult to definitively diagnose, with a large variation in pathologies between affected individuals. The Roberts Lab collects samples from across the globe to use in its research, which can arrive in a variety of labware formats. Anne Roberts, Senior Lab Manager, explained: “We regularly process samples from multiple cohorts around the world, which tend to arrive in containers of all shapes and sizes. The VOYAGER adjustable tip spacing pipettes have been a complete game changer for us, allowing automatic adjustment of tip spacing at the press of a button to accommodate different labware. This has saved us hours upon hours of pipetting, allowing us to increase our processing rate from around 300 to 2200 samples a day without affecting accuracy. Having the ability to move eight samples at once and adjust pipetting parameters with a single hand – leaving the other free to hold the plate – has totally changed the way I work.”
It sells itself
The lab initially purchased a single VOYAGER pipette but, after seeing such a positive impact on workflow, purchased three more in quick succession to assist with a variety of other laboratory processes, including ELISAs and triple quadrupole mass spectrometry. The team is now able to aliquot all kinds of samples – including blood and cerebrospinal fluid, as well as tissue homogenates – seamlessly into different labware formats. Crucially, staff are now able to do this as soon as samples arrive, avoiding the need for excessive freeze-thaw cycles – which can cause degradation – retaining sample quality for more precise and accurate testing.
“Without fail, once staff from other labs try out our VOYAGER pipettes, they purchase one for themselves. They can’t believe they ever made do without one and, of course, we completely agree. It is our favorite piece of lab equipment, and we simply would not be able to process our samples with the required speed and accuracy without it,” Anne concluded.