Alithea Genomics was created in May 2020, with the mission of supplying a BRB-seq service that could process samples for a fraction of the cost and time of traditional RNA-seq on a large number of tissue and blood RNA samples. For high throughput transcriptomics, BRB-seq is designed to save both reagents and time by pooling and processing multiple samples in a single tube straight after the first reverse transcription reaction, rather than processing them individually, as is required for standard RNA-seq protocols. As a result, this method lends itself to large research projects, and allows scientists to economically process a very high throughput of samples.
The best of both worlds
Speed, throughput and cost savings are the greatest advantages of BRB-seq, so the company needed a pipetting instrument that reflected these qualities. Riccardo Dainese, CEO of Alithea, explained: “For us, the INTEGRA VIAFLO 96 and VIAFLO 384 handheld electronic pipettes provide the best balance between automation, pricing and throughput. Our technology only really requires high throughput, precise pipetting for plate-to-plate transfers, so we didn’t need a big, expensive liquid handling robot. The VIAFLO 384 allows us to seamlessly transfer and quickly process thousands of samples, while still retaining the flexibility to change between 96 to 384 channel pipetting heads as often as required.”
Riccardo continued: “This combination of productivity and flexibility is particularly important for our three main customer sectors: academic researchers, biobank owners and pharmaceutical companies. Academic research often has to contend with limited funding, while the other two areas encompass large RNA sequencing projects with significant sample pools. In all instances, we need to minimize costs and preparation times. In addition, the bigger the project and the more samples there are to process, the more important it is to move away from small, manual pipettes to reduce the physical effort and strain. The VIAFLO 384 gives us everything we need to achieve our target throughput, without the hefty price tag of a large, automated liquid handling robot.”
Alithea initially purchased VIAFLO 96 and VIAFLO 384 instruments for its in-house BRB-seq service, but has since extended its use of these pipetting systems to include the assembly and aliquoting of sequencing kit plates for shipment to customers. Riccardo continued: “Being able to guarantee the precision of plate-to-plate transfers has been so important – especially for preparing ready-to-use plates for our customers – because it translates directly into data accuracy and uniformity. The VIAFLO 96 or VIAFLO 384 can aspirate a defined volume, then multi-dispense smaller aliquots, providing us with a much more convenient workflow than manual pipetting, while helping to guarantee precision. Another key feature is that it is straightforward to change the pipetting head, even for users that don’t have much experience with 96-channel electronic pipettes, making the systems very user friendly. Of course, the GripTips are an added bonus too, as we have never had a problem with loose tips falling off.”