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On the cutting edge
January 2020
by Jeffrey Bouley  |  Email the author
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GÖTTINGEN, Germany—Leading off this month’s roundup of hardware and software for life sciences, pharma and biotech is the Sartolab MultiStation for hands-free filtration of small volumes.
 
After the introduction of the Sartoclear Dynamics Lab V kits for harvesting mammalian cell cultures in 2018, Sartorius says it has now completed the Sartolab RF│BT range—and thus the Sartoclear Dynamics Lab product line—with a unit for the filtration of ≤ 50 mL samples.
 
The new Sartolab RF 50 vacuum filtration units are available in two versions, one with an asymmetric 0.22 μm PES membrane for sterile filtration and another with a 0.45 μm PES membrane for clarification. The new Sartoclear Dynamics lab V50 kits for the filtration of ≤ 50 mL cell cultures comprises the Sartolab RF 50 for the filtration and either one or two pouches of filter aid for the clarification. As a result, the Sartoclear Dynamics lab product family can now be used for samples from 15 mL up to 1 liter.
 
But many customers working on small volumes of 30 to 50 mL must filter multiple samples at the same time, the company notes, and this creates a critical pain point in handling: Each unit must be attached to a vacuum tube, then stabilized before filtration and then disconnected again before attaching the next unit to the vacuum source.
 
Sartorius facilitates the filtration of these smaller sample volumes through the introduction of the new Sartolab MultiStation, a stand that enables hands-free and parallel filtration of up to six samples. The MultiStation, in combination with the 50 mL vacuum filtration units and the DE filter aid is therefore, the company maintains, “the perfect tool for customers struggling with processing many small samples of mammalian cell cultures.”
 
Furthermore, the Sartoclear Dynamics lab V50 kits not only eliminate the centrifugation step but, together with the MultiStation, facilitate the filtration, avoiding extra time typically consumed for connection and stabilization.
 
And now read on for more recent news of tools and technology from some other companies.
 

INTEGRA improves ergonomic pipetting in the lab
 
HUDSON, N.H.—INTEGRA Biosciences says that it is dedicated to developing innovative solutions to improve ergonomic pipetting in the lab, helping researchers and other staff to avoid repetitive strain injuries (RSIs).
 
To that end, INTEGRA’s ergonomic pipette range currently includes:
  • EVOLVE manual pipettes—Lightweight with low plunger force, offering three separate dials for quick volume changes to avoid the typical approach of twisting the plunger.
  • VIAFLO/VOYAGER electronic pipettes—One-button plunger control and an intuitive thumbwheel design that reduces the risk of thumb injury.
  • ASSIST and ASSIST PLUS pipetting robots—Affordable automation of repetitive manual tasks to eradicate ergonomic problems altogether.
  • VIAFLO 96/384 electronic pipettes—Fill/mix an entire plate at a time to dramatically reduce the time spent pipetting, with a computer-controlled plunger and electronic tip loading and ejection.
  • GripTip pipette tips—Snap effortlessly onto the pipette with no hammering on required, providing the lowest ejection forces on the market.
Says the company: “Prolonged manual pipetting is an occupation that puts you at risk of developing hand, neck and shoulder injuries, including carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, tenosynovitis and tennis elbow. INTEGRA supplies a wide range of electronic and manual pipettes suited to various applications, all designed to reduce the risk of RSI and generally improve lab workers’ wellbeing and productivity.”
 

Thermo Fisher and Agilent renew commitment to third-party instrument control
 
SAN JOSE, Calif.—Thermo Fisher Scientific and Agilent Technologies announced recently that they are continuing their agreement to the industry-wide Instrument Control Exchange Program (ICEP), fostering compatibility among key vendors’ instrumentation and chromatography data systems (CDS). Organizations across the life sciences and applied industries will, the companies say, continue to benefit from the ability to select the hardware and software that most appropriately meets their application and business needs through the sustained involvement of key vendors.
 
Marking a significant step forward in the 15-year history of the ICEP, the latest enhancements to Thermo Scientific Chromeleon CDS software allow users to streamline quality control workflows through improved compatibility with Agilent’s gas chromatography and high-performance liquid chromatography instrumentation. Additionally, for the first time, Thermo Fisher’s GC, HPLC and selected ion chromatography instruments can also be controlled in Agilent’s OpenLab CDS. This allows users to increase workflow flexibility and efficiency through the implementation of instruments suited to their needs.
 
“The lack of interoperability between different vendors’ instruments and software has traditionally presented a barrier to laboratories adopting the solutions that best meet the unique needs of their workflows,” said Matt Hazlewood, senior director, global enterprise chromatography data systems for Thermo Fisher Scientific. “The renewal of our commitment with Agilent for mutual compatibility and third-party control of instruments allows customers to have continued access to our market-leading Chromeleon CDS software platform, and deploy the analytical solutions they need without compromising the flexibility or efficiency of their workflows.”
 
Added John Sadler, vice president and general manager, software and informatics for Agilent: “Agilent’s open-systems approach to laboratory informatics allows customers to select the best hardware and software for their needs. That is why we invest in integrating third-party analytical instruments into our OpenLab software suite in collaboration with other analytical instrument manufacturers—our aim is to provide simple and complete support for our mutual customers.”
 

Incubation monitoring system to improve the regenerative medicine workflow
 
WALTHAM, Mass.—From the Olympus Life Sciences Business comes the Provi CM20 monitoring system, which provides quantitative data about the health of cell cultures while they are in the incubator. The system periodically scans the cultures, counts the number of cells, determines confluency and wirelessly communicates the data to a tablet or desktop computer. By using the CM20 system, researchers reportedly can acquire data that will help improve the reproducibility and stability of their cell culture process.
 
Among other advantages, with a digital record of cell growth and health, users can store, reuse and transfer their data, compare it with past results or compare it with data captured under different conditions. In a project that multiple people are working on or when training new people, the CM20 system makes it simple for managers to check the team’s culture status.
 
With proven experience in regenerative medicine and expertise in optics, image analysis and data management, Olympus says is uniquely positioned to help empower users to push the boundaries of regenerative medicine with such technology.
 

BioTek Announces the New Cytation 7
 
WINOOSKI, Vt.—The new Cytation 7 Cell Imaging Multi-Mode Reader from BioTek Instruments combines an automated upright microscope, an inverted microscope and multimode microplate detection in a single instrument. This combination of microscopes and multimode reading enables applications that would typically require multiple instruments, the company states.
 
The inverted microscope supports fluorescence, brightfield and color brightfield imaging. The magnification range of 1.25x to 60x allows researchers to capture and analyze large objects as well as intracellular details with more ease. An upright reflected and transmitted light microscope offers up to 8x magnification for applications such as ELISpot, slide scanning with ROI detection and colony counting.
 
The multimode module in Cytation 7 features quadruple monochromator-based fluorescence, absorbance and luminescence. Temperature and gas control, plus variable shaking, provide an ideal environment for live cell assays. Gen5 Software controls the instrument for precise, accurate image and data capture as well as powerful data processing for quantitative and qualitative analysis. Cytation 7 may be integrated with BioTek’s BioSpa 8 Automated Incubator, enabling full imaging or multimode workflow automation for up to eight microplates at once.
 

Faster time to clinical candidate using FEP activity prediction
 
CAMBRIDGE, U.K.—Cresset, a provider of software for molecule discovery and design, recently released fully validated and accessible free energy perturbation (FEP) calculations and new workflows in Flare V3, one of the leading solutions for structure-based design. According to the company, it is now commonly seen as best practice in lead optimization projects to use methods such as FEP to calculate binding energies and, therefore, predict compound activities ahead of committing to time-consuming and expensive synthesis and wet lab screening. Adoption of these methods saves time, cost and resources, and enables better decision-making in late-stage preclinical discovery.
 
“Working with Dr. Julien Michel at the University of Edinburgh UK, an expert in free energy methods, we combined and enhanced open-source tools to generate a robust, user-friendly, fully validated and accessible implementation of FEP,” commented Dr. Mark Mackey, chief scientific officer at Cresset. “This enables computational chemists to predict the activities of new molecules during drug discovery, significantly reducing synthetic chemistry costs and improving the time to clinical candidate.”
 

PromoCell now offers in-vitro disease models
 
HEIDELBERG, Germany—PromoCell, a manufacturer of human primary cells and cell culture products, now offers cell disease models covering a wide range of diseases, including diabetes type 1 and 2, respiratory diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma, as well as cardiomyopathy disease. Relevant models enable experiments under physiologic conditions and are key for developing new therapies for chronic diseases.
 
“PromoCell now offers a large selection of donor cells with known disease status that are suitable for drug discovery and research applications,” says Daniel Spatz, chief business officer of PromoCell. These disease cell types can be cultured using PromoCell’s matching growth media to ensure optimal growth performance.
 
Code: E012028

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