Antrum Biotech, located at Groote Schuur Hospital, is a small start-up company within the University of Cape Town, aimed at translating scientific research into point-of-care diagnostic tests. The company specializes in respiratory and infectious diseases, and recently developed a novel assay for extrapulmonary TB (EPTB), a prevalent and deadly form of the disease. Robbyn Mattei, Laboratory Scientist at Antrum Biotech, explained the motivations behind this innovation: “Antrum Biotech is focused on developing niche diagnostic tests that are easy and practical to use within high-disease burden countries. During the development of our most recent diagnostic test for EPTB – the IRISA-TB™ assay – we recognized shortfalls in current TB testing methods, and created a rapid, accurate and easy-to-use immunoassay to improve the time to treatment. This novel advancement in TB testing is helping us to save lives and limit the spread of TB. In this way, we are contributing to the ‘End TB Strategy’, a plan laid out by the World Health Organization (WHO) to reduce the incidence of this severe respiratory disease – and related deaths – by 2030.”
Paving the way for healthcare innovations
Bringing successful healthcare products to market can be a notoriously slow and challenging process, so scientists at Antrum Biotech are always looking for ways to streamline their workflows. They recently acquired a PIPETBOY pro pipette controller, and the device's precise and reliable pipetting capabilities have transformed the speed and accuracy of the liquid handling steps performed within the lab. Robbyn continued: “Commercializing new diagnostic tools can be a time-consuming and complex task. At Antrum Biotech, we aim to accelerate the product development process, and one way to do this is to invest in new products to enhance our throughput. The PIPETBOY pro is a versatile, efficient and reliable pipetting aid that has become indispensable in our laboratories, allowing us to achieve a new level of accuracy when handling samples, buffers and solutions for our research projects, while also saving us valuable time.”
Multiple benefits for precision and productivity
Prior to investing in the INTEGRA pipette controller, scientists in the laboratory were handling up to 70 samples a day using manual serological pipettes. The PIPETBOY pro offers the team precise control of liquid volumes and an ergonomic, lightweight design to reduce fatigue. Robbyn described the many beneficial features of the device: “Transferring liquids using the PIPETBOY pro is fast and effective, because the device is lightweight, stable and easy to control. This efficiency is crucial, particularly when we are handling sensitive biological samples that need to be placed back into liquid nitrogen within a certain timeframe. The unique LED light feature is also useful, especially when we are trying to aspirate and dispense accurate liquid volumes in more dimly lit spaces.”
“Another feature of the PIPETBOY pro that we appreciate is that it is available in many different colors,” he added. “As our company grows, and the number of samples that we handle increases, we will look to invest in multiple pipette controllers for different aspects of our workflow. The ability to color coordinate the pipetting aids – assigning specific color devices to different tasks or workstations in the lab – will help us to keep control of our equipment and avoid contamination.”
Ongoing developments in disease diagnostics
Alongside investing in more pipette controllers, Antrum Biotech plans to seek out new laboratory innovations to improve its capacity and throughput for developing innovative diagnostic solutions. “We highly recommend the PIPETBOY pro to any lab seeking to optimize its operations and achieve exceptional results. We have been very impressed by the quality of the pipetting aids, and by the great customer service offered by INTEGRA’s local supply partner Labotec. I am sure that we will continue to build this relationship – and our product inventory – as we broaden our horizons and invest in automating our workflows in future. This type of constant innovation will be crucial as we work with other researchers and organizations to develop diagnostic tools that will have a lasting impact on how we control diseases like TB in the future,” Robbyn concluded.