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Culturing the unculturable
PARIS & LONDON—Late 2017 saw Biomillenia, the developer of Smart Microbes, announce a collaboration with QIAGEN N.V. for use of the latter company’s Microbial Genomics Pro Suite to generate next-generation sequence data on microbes identified using Biomillenia’s proprietary microbiome-on-a-chip technology. Biomillenia’s approach is able to identify strains of microbes previously deemed unculturable, at what it calls “unprecedented speeds.”
“The inability to culture, screen and isolate live bacterial species directly from the rich diversity of microbiota has previously been a significant limitation in research and product development. The combination of our microbiome-on-a-chip technology with QIAGEN’s industry-leading microbial genomics bioinformatics platform provides a complete and effective solution to this challenge,” said Dr. Dirk Loeffert, CEO of Biomillenia.
Biomillenia has developed a proprietary droplet-based microfluidics chip platform that cultures bacterial species directly from natural samples at the single cells level. This micobiome-on-a-chip technology contains greater than 100 million parallel picoliter-size droplets, reportedly allowing for a much higher diversity of live bacterial species that grow to clonal populations than standard microbiology methods.
Additionally, these picoliter-scale cultures can be isolated drop by drop based on phenotypic selection by a broad range of assay capabilities, effectively enabling selection of novel bacterial strains with desired traits directly from original samples. Biomillenia is able to screen up to 100 million microbes in parallel in a 2 milliliter reaction in three days, whereas traditional culture methods would take three years in 10,000 liter reaction volume.
QIAGEN’s bioinformatics platform provides an easy-to-run infrastructure for analyzing microbial genomes, from sequence assembly to microbe identification.
“QIAGEN has developed Microbial Genomics Pro Suite to make state-of-the-art bioinformatics reliable and accessible for researchers that need to analyze and visualize microbial genomes and microbiomes. Biomillenia has demonstrated an exciting new application for our powerful microbial bioinformatics. We are very pleased to have been able to reduce the time and costs in developing the required informatics pipelines and thereby enable significant acceleration in the development of their exciting Microbiome-on-a-chip technology,” said Dr. Frank Schacherer, vice president and head of products and solutions at QIAGEN Bioinformatics.