The perfect automated solution
Labs are increasingly choosing INTEGRA’s liquid handling instruments to help them address their growing workloads, and the ASSIST PLUS pipetting robot is ideally suited to diagnostic workflows such as HPV screening, offering fast and easy, walkaway automation of protocols. The Centre de Pathologie du Maine Normandie (CPMN) in Le Mans was the first lab in France to install an ASSIST PLUS to process HPV samples, and this system has now been adopted by several labs nationally for HPV testing. Dr Quentin Breton, a pathologist at CPMN, explained why they purchased the pipetting robot: “We chose the ASSIST PLUS because we wanted a solution that would allow us to automate the protocol for HPV testing as much as possible, while maintaining strict quality requirements and avoiding pipetting errors. We bought our instrument during the COVID-19 pandemic, and had no problems with delivery or set up – the customer service was great.”
CPMN’s ASSIST PLUS is equipped with a VOYAGER adjustable tip spacing pipette, which is used to transfer samples from tubes to PCR plate. Maria Falco, Laboratory Technician at CPMN explained: “We use the ASSIST PLUS to transfer samples and mastermix from tubes to plate for our PCR tests. There are many different labware formats, and precisely and accurately transferring between them is complicated and time consuming to perform manually with a single channel or fixed space pipette. Thankfully, the VOYAGER, in combination with the ASSIST PLUS, processes these automatically and simultaneously, allowing us to achieve very accurate and reproducible results, and streamlining the entire workflow.”
Automated programs to simplify the workflow
The lab uses the High-risk Human Papillomavirus DNA Fluorescence Diagnostic Kit (Sansure Biotech), a nucleic acid extraction and amplification test for the detection of various high risk oncogenic HPV types, including types 16 and 18. This kit avoids the need for time-consuming DNA purification steps prior to PCR set-up, providing faster results compared to other tests. Nucleic acid extraction and PCR set-up are combined into a single program on the ASSIST PLUS, significantly simplifying the workflow and ensuring superior reproducibility with error-free pipetting. This allows the lab to analyze 94 samples at a time – plus two controls – in three hours, using INTEGRA’s divided reservoirs to accommodate the lysis buffer and mastermix required for the protocol. The reservoir minimizes dead volumes thanks to its SureFlo™ anti-sealing array and unique hydrophillic surface treatment, which ensures that excess reagents are not wasted.
A versatile and robust time-saving instrument
Around 30 ASSIST PLUS instruments have recently been installed in clinical labs across France, mostly for COVID-19 testing with future plans to implement HPV screening as well. The versatile and robust nature of the ASSIST PLUS makes it ideal for several different workflows and applications, and its compact nature helps when lab space is tight. Maria added: “We have a fairly large laboratory, but there are not many benches. The ASSIST PLUS is the perfect size for us.”
The flexibility of the ASSIST PLUS means that the lab is now considering using it for a number of other workflows to increase throughput and speed up time to results. “The ASSIST PLUS has become an integral part of management of our HPV samples, and we have ideas on how to implement it for several other molecular biology workflows, which will be excellent to get up and running,” Quentin concluded.