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On the cutting edge
Beginning our recurring tour through some of the latest tools and technology news for pharma, biotech and life sciences is Cellecta, which in early October introduced the CloneTracker XP Expressed Lentiviral Barcode Library and CloneTracker XP Barcoded CRISPR Library product lines.
The new CloneTracker XP Barcode Libraries differ from the Mountain View, Calif.-based Cellecta’s standard CloneTracker Barcode Library in that the unique DNA sequence (i.e., the barcode) is designed to express on an RNA transcript in the cells. As a result, it can be detected by either DNA or RNA sequencing. Researchers can use these ready-to-use expressed barcoding libraries to label several million cells each with a unique barcode, and subsequently perform next-generation sequencing (NGS) to sort out sub-populations of progeny cells derived from the original progenitors at any point during their experiment.
“We are pleased to offer the research community the first commercial libraries that can label large cell populations with cell-specific barcodes detectable in both genomic DNA and expressed RNA cell fractions,” said Dr. Alex Chenchik, president and chief scientific officer of Cellecta. “While our standard CloneTracker barcode library can be used to track the evolution of progeny from each cell in the population, these new libraries with expressed barcodes, used in combination with single-cell RNA sequencing, allow researchers to identify which genes are actually activated or shut down in different groups of cells so that, depending on the experiment, they can identify which genes are important for drug resistance, metastasis, cell differentiation or other processes.”
A variation of the new CloneTracker XP barcode labeling product that Cellecta now offers introduces a gene effector, in this case CRISPR sgRNA, into the barcode library. Each effector targets and disrupts a specific gene in each of the cells that pick up a barcode. Cellecta currently offers two small, pre-made CloneTracker XP Barcoded CRISPR knockout libraries targeting 27 human and mouse anti-cancer genes, as well as custom library development services for CloneTracker XP Barcoded CRISPR Libraries.
Enabling DNA synthesis at scale
CAMBRIDGE, U.K. & ENSCHEDE, Netherlands—Evonetix and LioniX International announced in early October a collaboration to scale up production of prototype microelectromechanical systems (MEMs) for DNA synthesis. LioniX International plans to use semiconductor microfabrication techniques to manufacture the novel thermally addressable silicon array, capable of independent thermal control of multiple reaction sites. Evonetix will use this array to control a synergistic synthesis chemistry, optimized to have reaction rates that are highly dependent on temperature, at each of the 10,000 miniaturized reaction sites. This will allow for massive parallelism in the DNA synthesis process, and therefore a very high throughput.
Dr. Matthew Hayes, chief technology officer at Evonetix, noted, “Most existing technologies physically isolate the different oligonucleotides during synthesis in a well. In contrast, our array operates in a continuous flow of liquid with virtual wells made by independently controlled temperature islands. The extremely low effective volume of these virtual wells minimizes reagent consumption and therefore cost, whilst the flexibility afforded by the lack of physical boundaries enables innovative synthesis and assembly processes, which are ultimately the key to our ability to synthesize long DNA fragments.”
New 1,536-well spheroid microplate
CORNING, N.Y.—Corning expanded its spheroid microplate offerings in the summer with the introduction of a 1,536-well plate designed for growing spheroid cell cultures. The Corning 1,536-well Spheroid Microplate helps scientists generate a higher volume of spheroids for high-throughput screening, which is especially beneficial in cancer research and drug testing. The spheroid microplate reportedly eliminates the need for a transfer step in visualization or biochemical assays, reducing the risk of cell damage or loss. The newer spheroid microplate format, in addition to Corning’s current 96- and 384-well formats, is said to be compatible with most high-throughput screening instruments.
“The 1,536-well format takes spheroid plates out of the research lab and into high-throughput screening,” said Dr. Keith R. Olson, global director of business operations for Corning Life Sciences. “This enables researchers to drive a larger volume of compounds through drug screening in less time, using a more physiologically relevant 3D cell culture and thereby potentially accelerating the research and drug discovery process.”
Stream Bio introduces bioimaging probes
STOCKTON-ON-TEES, U.K.—In September, Stream Bio launched its “transformative” Conjugated Polymer Nanoparticle (CPN) products with life-sciences distributor 2BScientific. Stream Bio’s non-toxic molecular bioimaging probes, known as CPNs, reportedly provide immense photostability and sensitivity (brightness) with a highly specific targeting and magnetic cell purification capability, all while requiring no change to existing lab protocols.
The CPN products can be used in molecular imaging and R&D applications such as flow cytometry, ELISA, FISH, western blotting FRET, IHS and lateral flow assays. Stream’s CPNs can be purchased in four emission wavelengths from 475 nm to 680 nm, covering colors blue, green, yellow and red.
Although Stream’s CPN products are initially aimed at in-vitro R&D, it is hoped that the roll-out of the technology will also positively impact in-vivo R&D, diagnostics and therapeutics in the future.
“We are very excited for our first launch and look forward to extending this into a number of other EU countries in the near future, and ultimately worldwide. We are planning on a rapid expansion of the range over the coming 12 months, extending their utility into a number of new applications and widening their use in our key areas,” noted Steve Self, commercial director at Stream Bio.
SmartExtender brings versatility
HAMBURG, Germany—The Eppendorf ThermoMixer series is an established series globally for the heating, cooling and mixing of samples in the lab. All common vessels can be handled by specialized SmartBlocks on top of the mixer. Now the new Eppendorf SmartExtender, released in September, offers a comfortable incubation tool which can easily be used as an add-on to existing mixers and related SmartBlocks.
Up to a dozen 1.5 mL vessels can be incubated in parallel, and the temperature control for heating is independent from the SmartBlock in use. A second temperature within the same instrument saves time, especially when performing a multi-step workflow like enzymatic reactions or needing a standard incubation temperature in parallel to individual workflows. By taking advantage of the ThermoTop power support connectors, every existing Eppendorf ThermoMixer C, Fx or ThermoStat C can be used with the SmartExtender.