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Clinical Translation of Stem Cells 2014Genomics Research 2014European Lab Automation 2014Advances in qPCR and dPCRAdvances in NGS & Big Data20% Discount OfferePoster Award PrizeBlogs
April 2014
Inaugural Bioprinting Congress to Highlight Current State-of-the-Art on 3D Scaffolds
16 Apr 2014

An interview with Professor Chee Kai Chua

The inaugural International Bioprinting Congress will take place at the Biopolis, Singapore on 24-25 July 2014. The event will present the leading international scientists and thought leaders within the rapidly developing field of 3D bioprinting.

Topics to be covered during the conference include: Additive Manufacturing of Tissues and Biofabrication; Scaffolds and Biomaterials for Tissue Engineering; Biological Laser Printing; Biological Inkjet Printing; Search for the Synergy by Fusion of Bio-Additive Manufacturing and Micro Manufacturing; Cell and Tissue Patterning for Lab-on-a-Chip and Tissue Models; and, Additive Manufacturing and Medical Devices.

The Bioprinting Congress will deliver a unique format to maximize the knowledge being delivered to registrants.  Mornings will follow the traditional format of scientific presentations from the leading experts, while the afternoons will be comprised of panel discussions covering the topics highlighted in the morning sessions. The panels will include the morning’s presenters, the organising committee of Prof. Chua, Prof. Nakamura and Dr. Djaballah, plus members from international regulatory bodies and venture capitalists. The conference will thus provide attendees with a balanced overview of the industry from the varied perspectives of leading researchers, investors and legislative authorities.

In addition to the comprehensive conference programme, registrants can also take advantage of a tour of the facilities at the
Nanyang Technological University Additive Manufacturing Centre. The tour, which will take place on Thursday 24th July, is open to all conference attendees and includes transportation there and back.

Keynote speaker, Professor Chee Kai Chua of Nanyang Technological University will discuss current research on additive manufacturing in tissue engineering with an emphasis on state-of-the-art techniques on 3D scaffolds.  In today's blog, he shares some of the points he will cover in his keynote speech.

SELECTBIO:  What role do Additive Manufacturing (AM) techniques play in 3D bioprinting?

CHUA: In 3D bioprinting, specifically for scaffold fabrication, conventional methods are not able to repeatedly control the precise architecture of the scaffold. The architecture at micro and macro scale is very important to direct cells responses and ensure cells survival on the scaffold.

By using AM, we are able to produce a scaffold as an exact replicate of what has been pre-determined in the design file. This allows us to control the macro and micro architecture of the scaffold with precise repeatability. The pores can be tailored to different cell types and the interconnectivity ensures maximal cell survival.

There are more than 40 Additive Manufacturing (AM) techniques or systems in the market, including professional 3D bioprinters. Different AM systems play different roles in 3D bioprinting. For direct fabrication of cell-free scaffolds with customized design and controlled pore size, Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) or Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) would be the choice, because they can directly process some biopolymers into 3D scaffolds. For biopolymers that cannot be easily processed, a dissolvable mold can be made first and then used to cast a biopolymer scaffold. This approach is called indirect fabrication. In this case, Modelmaker or Polyjet could be the choice of printer, because its resolution is high and the printing material can be dissolvable. In the last 15 years, my group did a lot research on both. As to additive manufacturing of cellularized scaffolds or scaffold-free tissue equivalents, a bioprinter would be preferred, since living cells are incorporated in the fabrication process, now some of my students are working on this approach. Again, different AM systems play different roles, depending on what you want to do in 3D bioprinting.

SELECTBIO: What are some of the potential and challenges of implementing AM?

CHUA: Most of the systems now only process single materials. In reality, most applications require multi-material for a functional part. Therefore, the challenge is how to process different materials within the same system to produce a multi-material functional device using AM. This is not only true for industrial application, but also for biomedical applications.

Another great potential of AM is making functionally graded structure to match the exact host tissue mechanics to maximize the performance of the scaffolds.

We have seen more and more companies selling AM-made 3D scaffolds, either as medical devices or as research tools. This is the potential of AM to create business opportunities. Perhaps, we could see a medium-sized industry in future.  On the other hand, we have seen growing research works successfully printing living cells, stem cells and functional mini tissues. We have also seen growing research works attempting to print constructs incorporating multi-cell types and multi-materials. These show the potential of AM to be able to print human tissue models in the near future for applications in biomedical and pharmaceutical industries.

As to the challenges, there are many. Technically, the main challenge is vascularization; i.e., how to print a long-lasting vascularized construct. Other challenges include development of new AM biomaterials, standardization of AM-made tissue engineering products, regulatory environment for speedy bench-to-market, financial policies for sustainable funding support, creation of AM talent pool, etc.

SELECTBIO:  What are some of the key points concerning 3D bioprinting – particularly 3D scaffolds – that you plan to cover during your keynote speech?

CHUA: The key points include the following: (1) What is the current state of the art in scaffold fabrication using 3D printers?; (2) What are the requirements for a scaffold?; and (3) What are the challenges and potential of 3D printed scaffolds?

SELECTBIO:  Tell us a bit about the NTU Additive Manufacturing Centre that you have been instrumental in getting established.  What are the goals and objectives of the Centre?

CHUA: NTU Additive Manufacturing Centre or NAMC in short, is a programme funded by Economic Development Board (EDB) of Singapore.  The Centre’s vision is be a world leader in Additive Manufacturing technology.  The Centre’s mission includes the following: to achieve technological innovations and breakthroughs through in depth Research and Development (R&D); to discover and innovate new and demanding industrial applications, transfer of knowledge, technology and manpower to local and regional industries; and, to train and nurture a pool of talented manufacturing engineers to meet the increasing demands of this sector and to excite a new breed of AM engineers to the profession.

SELECTBIO:  You have also been instrumental in spearheading the set up of three pan-university institutes: the Institute for Sports Research, the Maritime Institute@NTU and the Air Traffic Management Research Institute.  These are three very different disciplines!  What are the synergies and why a pan-university institute?

CHUA: Indeed, they are three different disciplines!  However, what is common amongst the three institutes is that they cut across colleges and schools in terms of drawing the expertise across the universities.  The 21st century discoveries are more and more borne out of multi-disciplinary research and these three institutes are great examples of getting faculty across different disciplines to tackle problems in and deliver innovative solutions to those three industries.

SELECTBIO:  How do you envision AM tissue engineering evolving in the future?

CHUA: In recent years, I have seen AM tissue engineering trending from printing cell-free scaffolds to printing scaffold-free cells. In the near future, probably we could see cells, stem cells or mini tissues printed on chips to be used as tissue models for various biological, medical and pharmaceutical applications. Meanwhile innovative ideas using AM to print vascuralized tissues or composite tissues are also highly expected. Of course, ultimately, AM tissue engineering should progress to deliver automated, industrialized human tissue/organ fabrication to meet clinical demand.

Multi-material scaffold can be fabricated, with tailored design and incorporating functional substances such as nanocomposites or active biomolecules. There will be new applications going into various biomedical fields, beyond hearing aids and digital dentistry. The extension of AM in bioprinting will bring AM towards more biological-oriented systems. 

SELECTBIO:  What do you hope attendees take away from the International Bioprinting Congress?

CHUA: KFC – Knowledge, Friendship and Collaboration.

 

 

Posted By: SelectBio Blogger

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Genomics Research 2014 to Highlight Tracks for PCR & Next-Gen Sequencing and Gene Silencing & Epignetics
09 Apr 2014

SELECTBIO’s Genomics Research 2014 conference will feature an integrated program of tracks designed to cover the latest developments in single cell PCR, qPCR in diagnostics, next-generation sequencing platforms and methods, microRNA-based gene expression and epigenetics in development.  Because of the breadth and depth of these topics, Genomics Research has been split into two distinct tracks: PCR & Next-Gen Sequencing and Gene Silencing & Epigenetics.  These co-located conferences will take place at South San Francisco Conference Center from 29-30 April 2014. This dual track format has been very successful with attendees.  Because the conferences are co-located, registered delegates will have unrestricted access to all co-located meetings, ensuring a comprehensive learning and sharing experience as well as being financially beneficial for attendees. The PCR & Next-Gen Sequencing conference will focus on new research developments and applications of single cell PCR along with presentations covering diagnostic applications in qPCR in pathogen detection. In addition, the conference will dive deep into next-gen sequencing applications, covering the latest developments in third generation sequencing technologies.
The Gene Silencing & Epigenetics conference will focus on gene silencing processes as a way to modulate gene expression, with the goal of finding novel ways to help treat human disease. A major focus will be on cutting-edge research taking place in the field, with a particular emphasis on epigenetics in modulating and controlling development. The latest developments in these two fields will be highlighted and discussed by experts sharing their work.
Speakers for both conferences come from a worldwide roster of top academic institutions as well as commercial organisations in a manner that brings together the basic science with the applications in these growing segments.  In fact, a recent SELECTBIO interview with Dr. Stephen Bustin discussed his keynote presentation at the upcoming PCR & Next-Gen Sequencing conference during which he will consider some of the challenges, especially those relating to reverse transcription (RT)-qPCR and introduce novel applications of this versatile technology.  Check it out!

Also featured will be an exhibition with vendors displaying the most recent technologies and products in these fields.
Click here to register to attend. Sublime San Francisco San Francisco, California offers a number of wonderful treats for any visitor, from world-class art museums to one of the most fun baseball stadiums to the always entertaining Fisherman’s Wharf. What’s better than an early evening stroll along the Embarcadero waterfront, a visit to the Ferry Building at the base of Market Street (with everything from a Farmer’s Market to wine tasting) and dinner in any of the nearby restaurants with a marvelous view of San Francisco’s new Bay Bridge all lit up at night?  The nearby recently renovated Exploratorium on Pier 15 provides 21st century learning laboratory sure to amuse and delight. If the weather is fine (and it usually is in April), another fine place to visit is Golden Gate Park.  Many walking trails throughout this greenbelt in the middle of the city start and end at interesting destinations, including the De Young Fine Arts Museum, the Conservatory of Flowers, and the California Academy of Sciences. During April, the De Young museum will be featuring a very interesting show on Georgia O’Keefe along with several other exhibits. 

Across the road from this museum is another: the
California Academy of Sciences. Completely re-built and re-envisioned after the 1989 earthquake, the new Academy is touted as the greenest museum in the world, and “brings the whole universe under one roof - an aquarium, a planetarium, a natural history museum and more! The 412,000 square foot structure is not only physically impressive, but it just may be the greenest museum on the planet, with a 2 ½ acre Living Roof, an expansive solar canopy, an extensive water reclamation system, and walls insulated with recycled blue jeans.”  The walk-through butterfly garden is delightful, but all the exhibits are fascinating.  Don’t miss the chance to visit the 2.5 acre living roof! At Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf along the waterfront is the launching point for trips to the famous Alcatraz Island, ferry rides across the bay, and boat cruises under the Golden Gate Bridge.  The nearby Aquarium of the Bay offers a number of fascinating exhibits, including a unique underwater walk through a glass tunnel that allows visitors to view the world beneath the waves.  Be sure to try the justifiably world famous Dungeness Crab from one of the crab shacks, street vendors or restaurants along the pier!

If sports are your thing, then a baseball game at AT&T Park should be on your bucket list!  You’ll be visiting San Francisco thick in the middle of baseball season with several home games scheduled before, during and after the conference.  The delights of an afternoon game can be enjoyed on the weekend before the conference or an evening game any night of the conference.  Ticket prices range from as low as $26 in the outfield to almost $200 if you want to ensure a night to remember! Getting around San Francisco can be a bit different: the famous cable cars provide a fun and quick way to get around the downtown area.  Other transportation options include buses, trains, rapid transit and taxis.  The conference will be held in South San Francisco, which provides better airport access.  From the convention center, it’s easy to hop onto the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) system to quickly get right into the heart of San Francisco or even dross the Bay.  For more information about what to do in San Francisco, please visit http://www.sanfrancisco.travel/

Posted By: SelectBio Blogger

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Diagnosis and Prevention of Cell Line Cross Contamination
02 Apr 2014

An interview with Professor John Masters

The inaugural Advances in Cellular Assays and Cell Culture is part of the 4th annual European Lab Automation (ELA) conference to be held 14-15 May 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. The ELA exhibition will be held in parallel alongside several exciting co-located conferences, including not only Advances in Cellular Assays and Cell Culture but also Advances in NGS & Big Data, High Content Analysis, Advances in Automation & Robotics, and Advances in qPCR & dPCR. The exhibition will showcase 50 of the industry’s leading solution providers and feature current technologies and services.

The conference will present a dizzying array of presentations concerning current research in cell culture and assay systems, including University College London’s Professor John Masters in-depth look at the causes identification and prevention of cell line cross-contamination. In today's blog, he shares some of the points he will cover in his presentation.

Masters points out that “up to 20% of human cell lines are derived from a different individual or species to that claimed. This figure is based on submissions to cell line banks. It indicates that when cell lines are shared between laboratories without authentication about 20% are not what they are claimed to be. If the cell line is being used as a tissue-specific model – e.g., screening for drugs for a particular type of cancer – then the data is not only invalid, it is misleading.”

Poor tissue culture practice is a leading cause of cross-contamination. Masters advises a close study of various methodologies for good tissue culture practice that are described in many books and articles, in particular R. Ian Freshney’s “Culture of Animal Cells A Manual of Basic Technique and Specialized Applications, 6th Edition,” published by Wiley-Blackwell, as a good primer. “Thorough training is essential,” he adds.

Another topic Masters will address during his presentation is the role of STR profiling in authenticating human cell lines. “It is the gold standard for authenticating cell lines,” he emphasizes. Masters has been intimately involved in STR profiling beyond the walls of the lab. He chaired an ATCC Standard Development Committee chartered with developing a standard using STR profiling for the authentication of human cell lines, which in January 2012 became accredited by ANSI (American National Standards Institute). It gave him great pleasure to chair the committee. “In fact,” he states, “everyone gave of their time freely and worked extremely hard. I had very little to do. It was co-chaired by Yvonne Reid (ATCC) who did a fantastic job.”

With the STR standard defined, Masters envisions the evolution of STR techniques to eventually “be replaced by SNP profiling, but not until there are sufficient cell lines SNP profiled for comparative purposes.”

Masters will be presenting some of these ideas and results at ELA 2014 as part of the Advances in Cellular Assays & Cell Culture conference in Barcelona, Spain

Click here to register to attend.

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Real-time PCR: Revisiting the Old and Introducing the New
26 Mar 2014

An interview with Dr. Stephen Bustin

According to Dr. Stephen Bustin, “Although real-time PCR (qPCR) is arguably the most ubiquitous molecular technology in use today, many aspects of its use remain problematic.” Dr. Bustin’s keynote presentation at the upcoming PCR & Next-Gen Sequencing conference will consider some of the challenges, especially those relating to reverse transcription (RT)-qPCR and introduce novel applications of this versatile technology.

The PCR & Next-Gen Sequencing conference is co-located with Gene Silencing & Epigenetics at the upcoming Genomics Research conference to be held in San Francisco, CA from 29-30 April 2014. Keynote speaker Dr. Bustin is Professor of Allied Health and Medicine at Anglia Ruskin University in the UK. Dr. Bustin has published numerous peer-reviewed papers and reviews and is the editor of the “A-Z of quantitative PCR”, the leading textbook for this technology. He will deliver an in-depth presentation about real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) with a look back at the evolution of the technology and a look forward to what’s to come. In today's blog, he shares some of the points he will cover during his keynote speech.

“First,” Bustin points out, “the transparency of reporting and reliability of conclusion of qPCR-based publications continues to be a major problem, as demonstrated by our recent publications in Nature Methods (Nov 2013), Molecular Oncology (Jan 2014) and PLOS One (Feb 2014). I aim to emphasise the urgent need to implement the MIQE guidelines.”

“Second,” he continues, “I will discuss how the majority of publications using RT-qPCR to quantify transcripts report fold-changes of less than 10-fold, and very often less than 5-fold. In 2004 two reports suggested that commercial RT preparations result in concentration and target specific variegations of up to 100-fold. We have compared a large number of commercial RTases to determine whether that same variability still exists. We have also looked at the RT step to see how much variability there is, and how that might affect the biological relevance of small fold-changes.”

In addition, with regard to improvements that could be made to the basic PCR workflow, specifically in the area of manual activities, Bustin states that he will be pointing out that the workflow suggested by MIQE provides the best guarantee for a successful and meaningful result and highlight its straightforward approach.

“The most influential findings that have come about as a result of investigations using qPCR and (RT)-qPCR,” he adds, “relate to the misuse of these technologies in the detection of measles virus in the intestines of autistic children, and my role in uncovering this.” When asked what some of the innovations Bustin thinks will occur in the area of PCR technology in the future, he answered: “In a nutshell, miniaturisation, very fast cycle times, complex multiplexing, point-of-care assays, automation from sample preparation to result reporting.” Bustin will be presenting these ideas and more at PCR & Next-Gen Sequencing. The conference takes place from 29-30 April in San Francisco, USA.

Click here to register to attend.

Posted By: SelectBio Blogger

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Flow Chemistry Conference to Highlight Cutting-Edge Research
19 Mar 2014

The 4th Annual Flow Chemistry Congress of the Flow Chemistry Society will be held from 10-11 April 2014 in Boston, MA. Hot topics such as Meso Flow Chemistry, Microfluidic Chemistry and Combination of Microwave Technology and Flow Synthesis will be covered.

Leaders in the field will be among the keynote speakers and presenters, including Dr. Frank Gupton, Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University; Dr. Timothy Jamison, Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and, Dr. Klavs F. Jensen, Warren K. Lewis Professor and Head of the Chemical Department, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Professor Jensen’s kickoff presentation on Developing and Scaling Multistep Flow Chemistry will provide examples of development of scaling of multistep flow chemistry along with ultrafiltration strategies for recycling of homogeneous catalysts.

The Flow Chemistry Society was formed by internationally recognized flow chemistry experts to unite and represent those who are actively working on this rapidly developing field. The Society is dedicated to enhance the public appreciation of flow chemistry and its integration into everyday practice throughout the world by delivering the latest knowledge and making it available for the entire chemistry community. This conference provides detailed presentations concerning some of the most notable flow chemistry research being performed today.

Flow Chemistry Congress will be held at the Revere Hotel Boston just two blocks from Boston’s famous Boston Common and close to numerous world-class eateries and entertainment.

Explore Boston

The Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile, brick-lined route that leads walkers past 16 historically significant sites, including museums, meeting houses, churches and burying grounds, all intimately tied to people who shaped the United States and tied to the American Revolution. Walking this path, and visiting the various places along the way, provides a must-see look at American history from the Paul Revere House to the Old State House. It’s easy to download an audio tour to ensure that you don’t miss anything as you go and to provide intriguing details about key points along the path.

And where better to start your walk into history than Boston Common, just steps from the FCC hotel? A 50-acre park in the middle of this historic city, the Common is close to many of the most important (and interesting) places to visit in Boston. Even if you’re just walking across the Common to get to the cool eateries and antique shops that line Charles Street, you’ll probably witness an event or two along the way that you’ll want to linger over, from outdoor plays to festivals.

A quick metro ride takes you to Faneuil Hall, a marketplace built in 1742 and referred to as the Cradle of Liberty. Located near the waterfront, Faneuil Hall is a popular attraction that is still a marketplace offering food, entertainment, and a hub for starting numerous types of Boston explorations, including the famous Duck Tours that take visitors around the city in WW2 amphibious landing vehicles. Duck tours cruise by all the places that make Boston the birthplace of freedom and a city of firsts, from the golden-domed State House to Bunker Hill, Boston Common, Copley Square, Quincy Market, the Prudential Tower, the USS Constitution, even past the Big Dig! Best of all – and the grand finale – a short cruise on the Charles River!

If we get lucky with the weather, April can produce fine spring days that make attending a baseball game at Fenway Park an experience not to be missed! We can’t say that we planned FCC during the height of the baseball season but if you arrive a day early you’ll be able to catch the Red Sox vs the Rangers at 4:05pm on April 9th! Don’t forget to bring along a jacket for the cool April evenings!

If you’re an arts lover, then you’ll score big on this trip: the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston has a super exhibition on Impressionism that highlights the top 30 picks in the MFA’s impressive Impressionist collection. From Vincent van Gogh’s masterpiece, Houses at Auvers, to Claude Monet’s iconic Water Lilies, the exhibit is just one of more than a dozen shows taking place at the museum. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are all late nights at the museum, with the doors open until 9:45pm, so go!

Getting around Boston is easy thanks to lots of taxis, buses and the famous “T” subway system. The conference hotel is located within a block of 3 different T stations, all of which can get you around town quickly and safely. You can easily use the T to come straight from the airport on the Silver line and walk one block to the hotel. For more information about what to do in Boston, please visit http://www.bostonusa.com.

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Nanomedicine Conference to Highlight Latest Research in Medical Applications of Nanotechnology
12 Mar 2014

The pace of research has been accelerating in recent years, and new technology has driven many new applications, one of which is nanomedicine. To bring this exciting area of research to you, SELECTBIO is proud to collaborate with the British Society for Nanomedicine (BSNM) in the organisation of Nanomedicine 2014. BSNM is a registered charity, created to allow open access for industry, academia, clinicians and the public to news and details of on-going nanomedicine research throughout the UK and beyond. A key aim of BSNM is the provision of forums for scientists to disseminate their latest advances and highlight their work to the wider scientific community.

The Nanomedicine 2014 programme will provide insight across a number of emerging nanotechnologies that span from treatment to diagnosis. Presentations include the use of solid drug nanosuspensions for improving oral bioavailability and for sustained release formulations, recent developments in targeting nanoparticles through the use of aptamers conjugated to their surface and progress in siRNA delivery as well as cell and particle imaging.

In-depth Keynote Speeches

Nanomedicine's keynote speakers include Dr. Steve Rannard, Group Leader & Vice Chair, University of Liverpool, and Dr. Kattesh Katti, Director, University of Missouri. Dr. Rannard's presentation, "Polydendrons: A New Nanoparticle Platform with Nanomedicine Opportunities", will address dendrimers and their application in nanomedicine, with particular attention to the combined benefits of branched vinyl polymerisation with dendrimer chemistry to produce a new class of material - polydendrons. Dr. Katti's presentation will describe the application of green nanotechnology in cancer therapy, with a particular focus on phytochemicals from tea, various fruits and herbs possess powerful antioxidants that have redox potentials capable of reducing gold and other metal salts to their corresponding nano particles.

Nanomedicine 2014 will be held in Edinburgh, Scotland from 26-27 March 2014. A prestigious list of presenters from around the world, from industry and academia, will offer in-depth looks at various aspects of medical applications of nanotechnology. The conference will be held at the Edinburgh Conference Centre at Heriot-Watt University, which offers first-class conference facilities easily accessible to both downtown and the airport.

When in Scotland...

When in Scotland ... golf? If golf is your game, this is certainly the country and the place to take advantage of some world-class links. The Baberton Golf Club, established in 1893, is right next door and welcomes visitors of all ages, experience or ability. It's not the only one: the Kingsknowe Golf Club, established in 1908, is just a bit further, and also welcomes visitors. If you're interested in getting together a small group of like-minded conference attendees, please let me know and I'd be delighted to connect everyone for a truly unique conference networking experience!

Why not visit a whisky distillery? The Glenkinchie Distillery is a short drive away and the home of "The Edinburgh Malt". If you don't have a car, you can certainly still enjoy whiskey tasting at numerous whisky shops along the Royal Mile in downtown Edinburgh. Even better, make it your go-to drink during Nanomedicine: Whisky is often less expensive than a pint of beer in the local pubs!

Here's one for the books: the Scottish Whisky Experience on the High Street offers of all things a barrel ride through a replica whisky distillery to learn the whisky making process (it's well-rated by visitors and right next to the Castle downtown!). There are whisky tastings at the end and true aficionados can also schedule private whisky tastings.

Of course no trip to Edinburgh is complete without a visit to the Castle. Built on the Castle rock (an extinct volcano!), Edinburgh Castle is a World Heritage site. It anchors the old town that continues down the High Street and Cannongate - or the Royal Mile - toward the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

A short walk from the Castle, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, a member of the Royal Collection Trust and one of the Queen's residences, is open to the public, so take advantage of your trip to see how the other half lives!

Nearby, the National Museum of Scotland offers a diverse look at the natural world, science and technology and Scottish history all under one room; right now there is a Mammoths of the Ice Age exhibit that is sure to delight!

For art junkies, there are three key art museums near the Castle, including the Scottish National Gallery, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. In March, the Scottish National Gallery will have just opened an exhibition "Titian and the Golden Age of Venetian Painting" that celebrates recent acquisitions. Other exhibits at the museums include the latest in the Scottish Colourists Series, Edward Lear in Greece, Pioneers in Science, and Out of the Shadow: Women of Nineteenth Century Scotland.

If you're in the mood for a little sleuthing, Rosslyn Chapel is on the outskirts of Edinburgh. A privately owned chapel that belongs to the Earl of Rosslyn and is now managed by the Rosslyn Chapel Trust, Rosslyn Chapel is the 12th century chapel famous more recently for its role in The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.

Getting around Edinburgh includes the usual combination of trains, taxis and buses. The train station adjacent to the campus takes you directly downtown. For more information about what to do in Edinburgh, please visit http://visitscotland.com.

With only two weeks to go, time is running out to register for the Nanomedicine 2014 conference.

Don't miss this opportunity to network with your peers and attend lectures provided by world leading experts, providing insight across a number of emerging nanotechnologies that span from treatment to diagnosis.

Don't delay, register today!

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Mediator Probe PCR - Principle, Applications and Guidelines for Primer and Probe Design
05 Mar 2014

A look at Dr. Felix von Stetten’s upcoming presentation during the Biodetection & Biosensors conference

Many scientists follow varied and interesting research paths during their careers, and Dr. Felix von Stetten is no exception. Now Head of Division, Lab-on-a-Chip at HSG IMIT Institut für Mikro- und Informationstechnik, Dr. von Stetten studied agricultural engineering, dairy science and biotechnology before zeroing in on microbiology as the area of research for his PhD.

Since then, he has pursued the development of methods for sample preparation, real-time PCR and DNA-arrays to his current focus on lab-on-a-chip-research. Soon, at the upcoming Advances in Biodetection & Biosensors conference, he will share findings from his latest research performed in the mediator Probe PCR research team headed by Simon Wadle.

Advances in Biodetection & Biosensors will be held in Berlin, Germany from 10-11 March at the Estrel Berlin, Germany's largest hotel. The conference will be co-located with Advances in Microarray Technology, Single Cell Analysis Europe and Lab-on-a-Chip (LOAC). Registered delegates will have unrestricted access to all co-located meetings.

Dr. von Stetten points out that mediator probe PCR is an alternative to established sequence-specific fluorogenic probe based real-time PCRs. Detection relies on label-free primary probes and secondary universal fluorogenic reporters that can be synthesized at decreased costs. In today’s blog, Dr. von Stetten and Simon Wadle, leader of the mediator Probe PCR team, discuss the technology which will be presented.

SELECTBIO: Can you tell us more about what will be discussed during the presentation? For instance, what are some of the guidelines for probe design and applications for detection that will be presented and how do they differ?

VON STETTEN: Mediator probe design is based on the principle of hydrolysis probe design. The differences are: One, the mediator probe is label free. Two, the hydrolysis probe sequence is augmented by a 5’ overhang, the mediator sequence (15-20 nt long). The mediator is complementary to the binding site of the fluorogenic universal reporter. And three, the 3’-terminus of the probe is blocked to avoid unspecific extension by the polymerase.

The universal reporter oligonucleotide, required for signal generation in MP PCR, comprises a reverse complementary sequence to the mediator binding site. Its’ hairpin-stem structure brings a fluorophore and quencher moiety in close proximity in order to maximize quenching before signal generation is initiated by the mediator.

SELECTBIO: What do you feel are the current challenges in mediator probe PCR?

WADLE: There are two key challenges. First, the increase of the degree of multiplexing. Compared to hydrolysis probe PCR two probe molecules are required for each signal generation reaction (mediator probe and universal reporter). This may lead to a higher chance of unspecific interactions and thus reduction of the reaction efficiency. Second, facilitating the detection reaction by using a microarray of surface-immobilized universal reporters. This will in future allow to increase the degree of multiplexing by parallel real-time detection of multiple target sequences.

SELECTBIO: What are some of the more interesting findings that have come about as a result of your investigations concerning MP PCR versus HP PCR?

WADLE: Relatively long hydrolysis probes (e.g. >25 nt), which are for instance required for the detection of AT-rich sequences, show low quenching efficiencies. Using unlabeled MPs together with quenching optimized universal reporters lead to increased quenching efficiencies and lower detection limits compared to the corresponding assays using hydrolysis probes. Exemplarily in a detection assay of human metapneumovirus RNA 29 copies could be detected at 95 % probability using HP PCR and 11 copies using MP PCR.

Due to the better initial quenching, the repeatability of the back-calculated copies was also better in most of the MP PCRs compared to corresponding HP PCRs; e.g., in an RSV RNA detection assay of the corresponding RNA standard with an input concentration of 100 copies per reaction lead to 95 [84..100] detected copies in MP PCR, whilst HP PCR detected 66 [22..239] copies.

Concerning probe synthesis, in average we receive twice higher yields at same synthesis scales ordered with MPs compared to HPs. This enables usage of the same order for twice as many analyses. The higher yield is due to the lower synthesis complexity: only one terminal modification of the MPs (3’ blocking moiety) instead of 2 (fluorophor and quencher) in case of HPs.

SELECTBIO: The presentation abstract mentions that MP PCR enables cost savings. Can you expand on this? What financial benefits can the lab manager expect?

WADLE: Two things in particular can be expected. First, even not considering the higher synthesis yield (see above), MPs are 60% cheaper than 6-FAM-labelled hydrolysis probes at the same synthesis scale (3 different vendors compared). This is of special importance where multiple probes are required per target (e.g. 3-5 hydrolysis probes per viral sequence due to evolutionary sequence heterogeneity). Assuming rapid amortization of the UR (~ 5x the costs of one HP at same synthesis scales) by a high number of assays that can be run with the same UR, the final oligonucleotide synthesis costs in MP PCRs approaches the synthesis costs of the MPs, thus total probe costs in the lab can be reduced by the 60% mentioned above. In this case, we are aiming to further reduce the costs of MPs. A second key area involves facilitating the detection reaction by using a microarray of surface-immobilized universal reporters that will add a further substantial cost benefit by large batch fabrication. Instead of fabricating small numbers of custom-specified microarrays, a high number of universal reporter microarrays can be fabricated and the customer defines by the liquid reagents (primers and probes) which different sequence panels he wants to analyze using the same microarray.

SELECTBIO: In your experience, how has PCR research changed over the last 5-10 years and what impact has it had on research?

VON STETTEN: Many research laboratories can now afford running real-time PCRs due to reduction of costs for devices and consumables (reagents and tubes). In comparison to post-PCR analysis via gel electrophoresis, this saves time, increases specificity of the molecular analyses and reduces the contamination risk. Especially for time critical diagnostic applications, this has led to a shift from culture-based to molecular based tests. In addition, the MIQE Guidelines (Minimum Information for Publication of Quantitative Real-Time PCR Experiments) are increasingly improving the standardization of PCR research by means of reaction setup and result reporting and thus comparability of data.

SELECTBIO: What are some of the innovations you think will occur in the area of PCR in the future?

VON STETTEN: Several innovations are expected to occur, including: • Increase of the availability of point-of-care PCR analysis systems (sample-to-result).
• Increase of availability of inhibitor-tolerant polymerases that allow direct analysis from crude sample material
• Improvement of isothermal amplification protocols
• New multiplexing strategies including different solid and liquid phase sensors
• Label-free detection

Dr. von Stetten will also be giving a presentation at the co-located LOAC conference “LabTube – A Novel ‘Microfluidic App’ for Sample Preparation and Diagnostics Operated in a Laboratory Centrifuge”.

You can register to attend here.

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From Microfluidic Components to a true Lab-on-a-Chip - Modular Approaches for Integrated Microfluidics
26 Feb 2014

An interview with Dr. Holger Becker

SELECTBIO’s 6th Lab-on-a-Chip European Congress will bring together leaders from both academia and industry to discuss innovative developments in this exciting field. Attention will be given to some of the many applications of Labs-on-Chips, from the enhancement of life science research to taking diagnostics to the point of need. The congress will be held in Berlin, Germany from 10-11 March 2014.

The congress will be co-located with Advances in Biodetection & Biosensors, Single Cell Analysis Europe and Advances in Microarray Technology. Registered delegates will have unrestricted access to all co-located meetings.

Dr. Holger Becker, co-founder and CSO of microfluidic ChipShop GmbH, will discuss the state of the art and future opportunities in microfluidics and lab on a chip. In today's blog, he shares some of the insights he will cover during his presentation.

SELECTBIO: What are some of the key points concerning integrated microfluidics you plan to cover during your presentation?

BECKER: Given the progress of the field, highly integrated microfluidic devices can nowadays be realized. It takes however a smart strategy to minimize technical development risks as well as saving time and money in such a development. I will demonstrate examples for a proven strategy for such developments.

SELECTBIO: What do you feel are the current challenges in microfluidics?

BECKER: Devices are becoming more complex and the interaction between the application and the technical realization more important. It is the application which drives the technical development and this is often an ignored connection. Often, a solution is chosen because there is a technology at hand. This might not be the best way.

SELECTBIO: Your mission at microfluidic ChipShop is "to shrink the biological and chemical laboratory in order to bring lab-on-a-chip systems into daily laboratory life at a reasonable cost". Tell us more about that.

BECKER: Despite the fact that microfluidics has been around in academia for almost 25 years, in the typical life science or diagnostic lab, only few systems can be currently found. One of the reasons for this has been that microfluidics is a field with a rather high entry barrier. In the past, you always had to start an engineering project if you thought that you had a problem which could be solved using a microfluidic device. We have concentrated on offering a rapid path to such proof-of-concept experiments by offering a multitude of microfluidic devices with instruments and accessories off-the-shelf so that you simply can order from a catalogue instead of going through inventing the wheel for the 127th time. Having these microfluidic modules (chips and instruments) at hand allows for a rapid product development without the need for significant early investments.

SELECTBIO: What sparked your interest in the field of microsystem technologies in medicine and the life sciences; i.e., how did you get started?

BECKER: I was intrigued by applying engineering solutions from the microtechnology world to life science problems. Already during my time as a PhD student in the early 1990s, I worked on microstructured sensors for chemical and biochemical analysis (using surface acoustic waves, which nowadays are making a big comeback in acoustofluidics) and then was fortunate to become Andreas Manz’ first postdoc when he was appointed professor at Imperial College. These were the pioneering times in microfluidics and all early players, academic as well as commercial, came to our lab. It was a bit like a “Woodstock” feeling, knowing that we were on to something big.

SELECTBIO: What are some of the more interesting findings that have come about as a result of your work with microfluidics and lab on a chip systems?

BECKER: I am still baffled by the wide range of applications. It is this applicability in almost any field of diagnostics or the life sciences which makes microfluidics such a powerful tool and it proves its worth more and more often.

SELECTBIO: What are some of the innovations you think will occur in the area of microfluidics and lab on a chip systems in the future?

BECKER: One of the most rapidly growing fields — which also holds enormous potential — is in cell-based assays, especially in an area now nicely called “organ-on-a-chip”. By being able to mimic in-vivo conditions on a microfluidic device, one can study cells and cell compounds much closer to real-life conditions. This is academically very relevant to understanding cellular and organ functions but also has tremendous economic potential. The other field is in molecular diagnostics, where complete workflows which previously needed a PhD-level chemist/biologist and expensive instrumentation can be transferred to an integrated microfluidic cartridge which does not need a skilled user.

For more information about Holger’s talk, and to view the agenda, please click here.

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Nanosuspensions and a Novel Synthesis of Solid Drug Nanoparticle Formulations
20 Feb 2014

An interview with Dr. Andrew Owen

I'm delighted to announce that the British Society for Nanomedicine (BSNM) is collaborating with SELECTBIO to present Nanomedicine 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland from 26-27 March.

Nanomedicine 2014's diverse programme will provide insight across a number of emerging nanotechnologies that span from treatment to diagnosis. The programme includes the use of solid drug nanosuspensions for improving oral bioavailability and for sustained release formulations, recent developments in targeting nanoparticles through the use of aptamers conjugated to their surface and progress in siRNA delivery as well as cell and particle imaging.

The Conference Chair is Dr. Andrew Owen, Professor of Pharmacology for the University of Liverpool and Chair of the British Society for Nanomedicine. In today's blog, Dr. Owen discusses the conference, the technology and his presentation.

SELECTBIO: Your presentation at Nanomedicine 2014 is titled “Improved Oral Delivery of Antiretroviral Drugs Via a Novel Synthesis of Solid Drug Nanoparticle Formulations”. Can you give us a prelude to what you'll discuss?

OWEN: Solid drug nanoparticles have been produced commercially using technologies such as milling where large fragments of crystallised drug are ground into particles with diameters measurable in nanometers. This approach has been shown to overcome bioavailability issues for some poorly absorbed and insoluble drugs but does have some limitations because it is not compatible with drugs that have certain physiochemical properties. At Liverpool we have been working on a novel technology that produces solid drug nanoparticles through freeze drying or spray drying emulsions, which may be more broadly applicable across drugs. I will discuss the benefits of the approach with a specific emphasis on our antiretroviral programme.

SELECTBIO: As Chair of BSNM, what are the key goals the organisation has with regard to nanomedicine?

OWEN: The British Society for Nanomedicine is a registered charity (Charity number 1151497) and our mission includes the direct explanation of ongoing science and commercial developments to allow the public to understand and stay in touch with this exciting area as it impacts future global healthcare. We are also actively engaged in organising research-based meetings so that scientists can present their latest advances and highlight their work to industry, clinicians and other researchers. More details about the society can be found on our website at www.BritishSocietyNanomedicine.org

SELECTIO: What do you feel are the current challenges in nanomedicine?

OWEN: The term nanomedicine refers to a spectrum of very different technologies that are deployed across diagnostics, therapy and regenerative medicine. While some of these technologies are in their infancy, others have already proved successful and have resulted in licensed therapies that are delivering patient benefits daily. Nanotechnology has received some bad publicity, not least through science fiction media, but it is important to emphasise the benefits it provides for the diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of disease.

SELECTBIO: What are some of the more interesting findings that have come about as a result of your investigations of solid drug nanoparticles (SDNs)?

OWEN: Our solid drug nanoparticle formulations have shown the potential for reduced doses and benefits for paediatric administration formats for antiretroviral drugs. These formulations have now undergone GMP manufacture and are in stability testing to support regulatory documentation for clinical evaluation. We are very excited by our pre-clinical data which has the potential to reduce the cost of therapy and expand the number of patients in resource-limited settings that can access therapy. Hopefully, these benefits will be confirmed in humans but we will rigorously assess this in the foreseeable future.

SELECTBIO: In your experience, how has nanomedicine research changed over the last 5-10 years and what impact has it had on research?

OWEN: Nanomedicine research continues to proliferate and this has resulted in new medicines and many therapeutic and diagnostic benefits are possible. Over the past 5-10 years there has been a large increase in the number of manuscripts describing the biological characterisation of nanomedicine candidates. There is still a strong emphasis on new material development but it is encouraging to see more pharmacologists and other life scientists engaging with the field.

SELECTBIO: What are some of the innovations you think will occur in the area of nanomedicine in the future?

OWEN: Two major global pharmaceutical companies have recently developed long-acting nanoformulations that can be administered once a month or even less frequently. In chronic diseases such as HIV this may represent a huge benefit to patients who currently need to take oral multi-drug regimens daily. Two such HIV drugs are now in later stages of development and it is important to consider development of other agents that are complimentary to these. There have also been recent developments in cancer with the first aptamer-targeted polymeric nanoparticle therapy entering phase II clinical evaluation. This is a really important area for future development since it allows specific-targeting of therapies to diseased cells or tissues within the body and has the potential to reduce off-target toxicities associated with many drugs and may therefore result in safer more tolerable medicines.

For more information about Dr Owen’s talk and to view the complete agenda, click here »

You can register to attend here »

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Discovery Chemistry Congress to Highlight Drug Design, FBLD, Protein-Protein Interactions and Chemical Biology
12 Feb 2014

If you're looking to catch up on the latest research in drug discovery, there's no better place to be than the 10th annual Discovery Chemistry Congress! To be held in fascinating Barcelona, Spain from 18-19 February 2014, the congress will integrate the latest structural chemistry with innovative discovery-driven technologies. Speakers will concentrate on the most important aspects of discovery stages for effective drug design and refinement. In the current economic climate there is increasing global competitiveness and financial pressure, therefore this conference aims to explore the options available to maximise the success of drug discovery and development.

Discovery Chemistry Congress will bring together top international scientists and clinicians presenting cutting-edge discoveries. Planned round table discussions on key areas are sure to energize the participants in defining the drug discovery and development landscape. Open to all conference and exhibition attendees, these discussions will provide an excellent opportunity to exchange ideas and network. In addition, the congress will provide an excellent platform for researchers from all areas of drug discovery research to discuss the future perspectives and collaborative options amongst various research departments.

The congress will be co-located with Flow Chemistry Europe and ADME & Predictive Toxicology. Registered delegates will have unrestricted access to all co-located meetings. Running alongside the congress will be an exhibition covering the latest technological advances and associated services within these fields.

Two Adventures in Chemical Biology - Palladium Mediated Cellular Chemistry and in vivo Imaging

You'll have the opportunity to learn about two very special adventures in chemical biology from the University of Edinburgh's Dr. Mark Bradley at the upcoming Drug Discovery Congress. A keynote speaker and the Conference Chair, Dr. Bradley will discuss his group's experiences as they developed a truly heterogeneous Pd(0)-catalysts with the ability to enter cells in culture and mediate efficient bio-orthogonal organometallic chemistry. The road to development wasn't always easy but the results were amazing.

Drug Discovery Efforts Mirror the Proverbial Hyper Cycle: What’s Next?

The wealth of chemical diversity that has evolved with biological diversity is underrepresented in the commercial chemical library offerings according to Dr. Rathnam Chaguturu, Senior Director and Deputy Site Head at SRI International. He states that the chemical diversity of these libraries is also not always relevant to biological function, and that major advances in chemical methodology and library development technology platform are needed to increase the natural product- and drug-like attributes to play their part in improving the success of our drug discovery efforts. Dr. Chaguturu will cover these points and more during his keynote speech at the congress.

Learn about the Latest Lead Discovery Techniques

Want to dive deep into fragment-based lead discovery techniques? Then sign up for Dr. Ben Davis' short course on 17 February. The course, "Fragment-Based Lead Discovery: Issues and Applications", examines FBLD methods to identify and optimise hits and leads in a drug discovery program. It is also suitable for those who are developing compound libraries for use in FBLD campaigns, and for anyone with an interest in integrating FBLD approaches with existing hit identification and lead optimisation strategies such as HTS. For details, check out Dr. Davis' agenda.

The conference takes place at the amazing Hesperia Tower Barcelona, one of Barcelona's tallest and most symbolic towers and a landmark in the city. It is just steps away from the Metroline and the train station, as well as close to the airport, providing easy quick access to all that this wonderful city holds.

Barcelona Offers Wide Range of Possibilities

Not only is Barcelona packed with numerous World Heritage Sites, from the Parc Güell to the Casa Batlló, there's lots of interesting things to do in this cosmopolitan port city. If you enjoy museums, everything from modern to classic is at hand. Two very special (and very different) places to visit are the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, with pieces that represent Catalan art from the Romanesque period to the mid-20th century, and the Fundació Joan Miró, which is not only housed in one of the most amazing museum buildings in the world but features more than 225 paintings, 150 sculptures, more than 5,000 drawings and all of Miró's graphic work!

A visit to the unique Casa-Museu Gaudí is a step back in time, while the Fundació Alorda Derksen showcases stunning contemporary art. A personal favorite is the Picasso Museum. Picasso's amazing journey from a classically trained artist to the realm of Cubism makes this particular museum a real treat!

Science museums are always invigorating, and Barcelona has several, including the CosmoCaixa, where exhibitions include the Flooded Forest that recreates an Amazonian rainforest ecosystem and features piranhas, crocodiles and other animal and plant species typical to the zone.

Barcelona nightlife has everything to offer from Flamenco to theater to world-class cuisine. Don't forget to try some of the rightfully famous Catalan specialties, and that includes anything with bolets (wild mushrooms) or calçots (large sweet spring onions) that are roasted over hot coals and dipped in a spicy romesco sauce. Make sure you try the tapas, particularly the pintxos. Pintxos are Basque tapas; e.g., plates of bite-sized goodies served atop a piece of bread. Tradition calls for you to pick at the food with toothpicks, and at the end of the night you will be charged for the number of toothpicks that you have used. Right now Spanish food is trending at the top of the food charts, with some of the most innovative and delicious treats to be found anywhere in the world!

Getting around is easy on Barcelona's metro system. TimeOut is always a good reference and they provide a list of 20 Great Things to do in Barcelona, so you're sure to find something to do that will make your visit to Barcelona memorable in all the best ways!

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Flow Chemistry and the State-of-the-Art in Microfluidic Bio/Chemical Processing
05 Feb 2014

An interview with Dr. Paul Watts ...

The 4th International Conference of the Flow Chemistry Society, Flow Chemistry Europe will be held in Barcelona, Spain from 18-19 February 2014. The presentations will focus on cutting-edge topics such as Meso Flow Chemistry and Microfluidic Chemistry. As the Society's main European meeting, Flow Chemistry Europe is dedicated to the integration of flow chemistry into everyday practice throughout the world by delivering the latest knowledge and making it available for the entire chemistry community. The conference will be co-located with Discovery Chemistry Congress and ADME & Predictive Toxicology.

Dr. Paul Watts, Professor and Research Chair in Microfluidic Bio/Chemical Processing at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in South Africa, will be a keynote speaker during the conference.

In today's blog, Dr. Watts shares some of the insights he will cover in more depth during his keynote speech.

SELECTBIO: What are some of the key points you plan to cover during your keynote speech at Flow Chemistry Europe?

WATTS: When micro reactor technology was first introduced it was seen as being a research and development tool suitable for small scale production. However the most topical examples discussed in the literature include the Ritter reaction performed on an industrial scale by DSM (Austria) that has generated over 4000 tonnes of product to date, and the synthesis of nitroglycerine in China. The key driver in these examples being safety, where the excellent mixing and heat transfer characteristics of micro structured reactors enables these highly exothermic reactions to be safely performed.

Nevertheless there are now a plethora of commercial reactors on the market, which means that most companies are investigating this technology to rapidly screen reactions utilising continuous flow, leading to the identification of reaction conditions that are suitable for use at a production level. Furthermore the inherent safety associated with the use of small reactor volumes enables users to employ reaction conditions previously thought to be too hazardous for use within a production environment, such as extreme reaction conditions or the use of hazardous compounds. Consequently, the types of reactions available to the R&D chemist increases through the use of this technology. It is this system flexibility that has the potential to reduce both the time taken and risk associated with transferring reaction methodology from research to production.

SELECTBIO: What do you feel are the current challenges in microfluidic bio/chemical processing (with reference to your work if possible)?

WATTS: One of the biggest hurdles is that chemists have been trained using batch reactor technology for decades. Consequently a lot of chemists are not even aware of micro reactor technology and are very unsure about its use. Consequently it is very important to introduce new technology within University curricula. A second problem relates to the abundance of batch reactors within industry within developed countries. Consequently management tries to push for existing technology to be used rather than investing in new expensive technology.

SELECTBIO: What are some of the more interesting findings that have come about as a result of your investigations in continuous flow organic synthesis?

WATTS: One of the biggest drivers of micro reactor technology is the ability to manufacture dangerous intermediates and products very safely as a result of the small volume of the system. It is for this reason that industry has adopted the technology.

SELECTBIO: In your experience, how have flow chemistry and microfluidic processing changed over the last 5-10 years and what impact has it had on your research?

WATTS: Ten years ago there were only a few companies that sold such equipment. Consequently the vast majority of research was performed using homemade systems, which industry was reluctant to adopt. There are now a wide variety of companies in the field manufacturing different technology to cover all applications, from small scale laboratory scale to industrial production.

SELECTBIO: What are some of the innovations you think will occur in the area of flow chemistry in the future?

WATTS: Innovations will undoubtedly occur in integration of production systems with purification and separation technology. It is imperative that such systems enable more efficient and greener manufacturing.

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QbD Excellence and Compliance to be Highlighted at Upcoming QbD Pharma Development Conference
29 Jan 2014

Tired of cold weather? Then get thee to Mumbai to bask in the warmth and heat your mind with a hot blast of knowledge! SELECTBIO is hosting two conferences in Mumbai, India from 24-25 February: the 2nd International conference on QbD in Pharma Development and the Generics and Biologics 2014 meeting.

With the theme "Excellence and Compliance using QbD", QbD in Pharma Development will feature implementation case studies, success stories and issues and challenges faced while implementing QbD principles at industry level. The Generics and Biologics 2014 conference will address a wide range of topics, including the quality and structure of biologics, biosimilars, industry challenges, with presentations on pharmaceutical innovator products and how to achieve success. Together the conferences provide both detail and broad overviews of key issues affecting pharmaceutical R&D.

An exhibition featuring latest technology and equipment in formulation development, bioanalysis and software for QbD studies will be held in conjunction with the conferences. As always, registered delegates will have unrestricted access to all the co-located events and exhibition.

Get Out and About in Mumbai

One of the great treats that attending a SELECTBIO conference provides is superior facilities easily accessible to the wonderful activities that the host city provides. Both events are held at the Ramada Powai Hotel & Convention Centre, which has the distinction of being the first property to serve Zero Transfat Food in Mumbai. Located in midst of bustling Mumbai, the 14 acre property provides both a respite from the hustle and bustle of the city with easy access for taking advantages of Mumbia's plentiful attractions. Beautiful Powai Lake is close by for a pleasant stroll.

Venturing further out a number of must-do pleasures await! If you get in a day early, a visit to the Chor Bazaar or Thieves' Market provides a dive into not only a very different shopping experience, but a fantastic look at history. The Chor Bazaar marketplace originated as a place where stolen goods were bought and sold. These days, you can rummage around items, from junk to antiques, and test your bargaining skills. Each street of the bazaar has a different specialty; one might feature woolen items while the next is stall after stall of furniture both old and new; you can even find car parts!

Chowpatty Beach is another Mumbai attraction, but not for swimming or sunbathing! It's a wonderful spot to soak in the true Mumbai spirit, from sampling local delicacies, to getting entertained by contortionists, astrologers and snake charmers! Throughout the year, Chowpatty Beach is the site for a variety of Hindu festivals.

Elephanta Island is another place you'll want to visit. It's a series of astounding cave temples at Gharapuri, a small island about seven miles northeast of the Gateway of India. A trip there and back takes at least four hours, but it’s more than worth it, so you'll need to plan some time either before or after the conferences for this visit. Most Indian temples are built by erecting base pillars and then laying plinths on top to support the roof, but in this region the brittle volcanic stone plinths kept breaking. Instead, at Gharapuri, this challenge was solved by chiseling away the rocky landscape to create the stone temple that now sprawls across 60,000 sq ft, with ornate pillars and exquisitely carved sculptures. It is truly stunning.

If you're looking for some inside pursuits, museums in Mumbai offer a uniquely interesting blend of heritage and culture, from the oldest museum in Mumbai -- the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum -- that traces the city's history through a stunning collection of intricate dioramas created in the late-19th and early 20th centuries to the National Gallery of Modern Art that houses India's richest collection of modern art. Housed in a building that once served as the palace of the Maharaja of Jaipur, the National Gallery's collection of 17,000 works includes paintings, sculptures, graphics and photography from 1850 onwards.

How to get around? Pubic transportation is the best solution. The hotel is located near the rail line, providing quick and easy access to the city centre. Rapid transit connects the railway to both airports to the rail line, while bus services, taxis and auto rickshaws fill in the gaps.

Make sure you take the train in to the gorgeous Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) (but make sure you get on the fast train!). Built in 1808 and formerly known as Victoria Terminus, CST is the city’s main transport hub and the busiest train station in Asia. CST was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004 for its blend of ‘Victorian Italianate Gothic Revival architecture and Indian traditional buildings’. And what a blend! The ornate exterior is a jungle in stone with a life-sized pair of lions guarding the doors to its administration offices and peacocks, monkeys, owls, chameleons, rams, elephants and other beasts peering down on commuters from the façade. CST makes even getting from point A to point B an adventure!

For more about Mumbai, from what to do to where to go, visit the official tourist website at http://www.maharashtratourism.gov.in/

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Flow Chemistry Spotlight on New Activation, Intensification, Integration and Readiness for Megatrends
22 Jan 2014

An interview with Prof. Volker Hessel

Microfluidics and meso flow chemistry are undergoing rapid innovations that are changing – almost as we speak – how flow chemistry is performed. Keeping on top of this dynamic field means keeping tabs on new directions and the latest technology; an activity that delivers the best results is the conference environment that encourages networking, delivers cutting-edge research from your colleagues, and an exhibit hall that displays the latest tools.

The 4th Flow Chemistry Europe Conference of the Flow Chemistry Society will be held in Barcelona, Spain from 18-19 February 2014. Held at the amazing Hesperia Tower Barcelona, the conference will cover the latest innovations in flow chemistry, microfluidics and meso flow chemistry. If you've registered for the Flow Chemistry Conference, you are also registered for the 10th annual Discovery Chemistry Conference, which addresses drug design, FBLD, protein-protein interactions and chemical biology, as well as the ADME & Predictive Toxicology Congress which will report on the vital role ADME and Predictive Toxicology play in aiding successful drug candidate identification and design. Running alongside the conferences will be an exhibition covering the latest technological advances and associated services within this field.

Keynote speaker, Volker Hessel, Professor at Eindhoven University of Technology, will kick off the conference with an insightful keynote presentation about several key aspects of the current state of flow chemistry, from new activation to readiness for megatrends. In today's blog, he shares some of the points he will cover during his keynote speech.

SELECTBIO: What are some of the key points concerning recent advances in flow chemistry that you plan to cover during your keynote speech?

HESSEL: Formerly driven by technological forthcomings, the innovations in flow chemistry were set on the micro-flow reaction and reactor level (‘intensification’). This has been brought to maturity, even concerning industrial needs. Innovation is less here nowadays. Then in the last five years, the innovation was focused “downwards” on a proper process chemistry and its generic aspects (‘activation’) and “upwards” on a continuous full-process conception (‘integration’). Both give entire new momentums and attract entire new groups of users and developers; e.g., synthetic chemists and energy/heat-, recycling-, supply chain and system engineering specialists. The driver is now on time-to-market and costs and sustainability, respectively. The next change is indicated by new application-scenarios steered by megatrends which slowly will change entire chemistry and melt together the best of conventional and new technologies, using flow chemistry for hybrid process solutions.

SELECTBIO: What do you feel are the current challenges in flow chemistry?

HESSEL: Process-chemistry and process-systems (heat integration, ‘Verbund’) innovations. Both merge in the need for industrially-suited flow multistep syntheses. Here new catalyst and process conceptions should orient on nature (biomimetics) and origin flow process-technical challenges which recently have given the name “flow orthogonality”. Further I see many individual challenges and promises. Too many to name all here. But certainly on particle synthesis, crystallization, dispersions, photochemistry/photocatalysis, biotechnology/biocatalysis (enzymatic microreactors), complex synthetic chemistry, plasma/microwave/ultrasound use and process automation. To approach chemistry of renewables and artificial photosynthesis. I will try to cover some of these aspects; especially where I do own research.

SELECTBIO: What are some of the more interesting findings that have come about as a result of your investigations using flow chemistry?

HESSEL: Flow protocols can be set very differently from batch protocols. For use of high temperatures and pressures – in a way and meant as a picture – the sky seem to be unlimited. Environmental concerns and industrial needs in public-private partnerships further define a boundary line; most often in a complex, multi-criteria manner, for which we finally need automated flow processing and automated evaluation. Process integration offers large, yet also largely overlooked, changes in CAPEX, OPEX and NPV improvements which are even given for flow processes that are not better here on a reaction level. One should not say too early if a synthesis is better in flow or batch, unless having the full picture of information. Vice versa, a rough early-bird view can help for game-changing flow chemistry already with the first experiments in the laboratory.

SELECTBIO: I note that you built up the new group devoted to Micro Flow Chemistry and Process Technology at Eindhoven University of Technology in 2011. How did you go about that, and what is your team doing now that you didn't anticipate when you started?

HESSEL: The group has grown larger than I expected. With master students, we are currently 26 group members. I deeply entered back into science, which was my intention, and now I'm satisfied to have that achieved. I did not anticipate us doing complex and dedicated synthetic chemistry; e.g., in the field of photocatalysis and other modern synthetic strategies. I did not imagine that we would specialize on plasma chemistry. Yet, there was an industrial and societal demand and we responded to that. I did not think we would work also with fuel processing and we are now deeply involved in a project on integrated biogas/biooil utilization to fuel. Yet, even with these additions, we also achieved many expected developments and dreams were realized. My ERC Advanced Grant helped here so much.

SELECTBIO: What are some of the innovations you think will occur in the area of flow chemistry in the future?

HESSEL: Multistep flow syntheses, yet finally whole ‘machines’ that will automatically make complex molecules with an easiness unknown today. Flow chemistry will merge with modular container process platform technology to allow much faster and consistent process development (time-to-market). New process control and analysis strategies will foster to realize stable processes under extreme conditions. Flow chemistry will move from its focal point organic chemistry towards particle/functional material synthesis, energy generation/conversion, renewables processing and biotechnology.

For more information about Prof Hessel’s talk and to view the complete agenda, click here »

You can register to attend here »

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Imaging and Functional Manipulation in Cells and Cell Mimics
15 Jan 2014

An interview with Dr. Steven Boxer

Single cell analysis is an exciting area of research that involves developing advanced methodology for probing the properties and dynamics of single cells, including understanding differences in cells and how these differences affect development and disease.

SELECTBIO's 5th annual Single Cell Analysis conference will present the very latest developments in this field. Agenda topics will include: Label-Free Routes to Single Cell Analysis; Microarrays and Chips for Single Cell Analysis; Microfluidics and Single Cell Analysis; RT-qPCR in Single Cell Analysis; Single Cell Analysis in Genetic Disorders; and, Single Cell Analysis in Signalling. The conference will be held in Berlin, Germany from 10-11 March 2014.

The Single Cell Analysis conference will be co-located with Advances in Biodetection & Biosensors, Lab-on-a-Chip and Advances in Microarray Technology. Registered delegates will have unrestricted access to all co-located meetings.

Keynote speaker, Dr. Steven Boxer, Professor at Stanford University, will dive deep into imaging and functional manipulation in single cell analysis. In today's blog, he shares some of the insights he will cover during his keynote speech.

Q: What are some of the key points concerning recent advances in single cell analysis, particularly with regard to model membranes and cells, you plan to cover during your keynote speech?

A: Cells and organelles are surrounded by a membrane composed largely of lipids and proteins. These membranes are compositionally complex with many different components organized on different length scales. The proteins are incorporated with specific orientations; they serve as the primary gatekeepers transporting specific components in and out of cells and as signal transducers between the inside and outside of the cell or organelle. The lipid compositions of the two bilayer leaflets are quite different and kept that way at considerable metabolic cost. Further complicating matters, these membranes are highly dynamic, with many components diffusing laterally in two dimensions and, in living cells, constantly being re-cycled. So much of what we want to know about the organization of single cells involves learning about their membranes in as much detail as possible. We focus initially on model membranes both as reductionist systems that capture important properties of actual cell membranes and as test bed for the development of new tools for studying and manipulating membranes.

Q: Describe some of the tools being applied to image and manipulate single cells. How were these tools developed and what impact do they have on research results?

A: With model membranes our work began with simple methods to organize or pattern membranes on solid supports. In this way arrays of arbitrary composition can be generated. Unfortunately the proximity to the solid support affects the lateral organization of membrane components, interferes with membrane protein function, and doesn’t really provide two “sides” as in an actual membrane. For this reason our lab and many others have developed tethering strategies that hold the membrane close but not too close to the support. In order to characterize the lateral organization of these model membranes, we have developed a type of imaging mass spectrometry using a NanoSIMS (Cameca Instruments), which gives unprecedented quantitative analysis of composition with 50-100 nm resolution. In the course of this work, we have developed molecules that mimic the natural membrane fusion machinery with an entirely synthetic system. This can be used to study the mechanism of membrane fusion with a high level of control and can also be used to manipulate the composition of cell membranes. Lastly, in a quite separate line of research, we have been developing split GFPs with novel features that can be used both to actively control interactions in cells and then image the result.

Q: What do you feel are the current challenges in single cell analysis?

A: The overwhelming majority of work in this field relates to distinguishing different cells in a population, typically at the level of the genome, transcriptome or proteome. Lipidomics and glycomics are developing. Each target drives the development of different bioanalytical methods, often methods that are sensitive enough to detect single molecules or very small numbers. There is, of course, a long history to histology and the current challenges are largely driven by increasing sensitivity and information content; i.e., quantitative analysis of as many components as possible, especially to distinguish normal from abnormal cells in a population. Ultimately a more complete inventory of cellular composition, organization and dynamics will be needed to understand how living systems function.

Q: Tell us more about the role of single cell analysis in current research; how is it different from other types of research and what are the benefits to this type of analyses?

A: I come from a background in physical and analytical chemistry using various types of spectroscopy. Even for non-biological systems, pushing the limits of sensitivity and precision are general goals. Single cell analysis pushes this even further with the potential to generate massive amounts of information about the composition, organization and dynamics of individual cells and what makes them different over their lifespan, in various disease states, and in different environments.

Q: What are some of the more interesting findings that have come about as a result of your investigations using single cell analysis?

A: Our focus has been on the development of methods for analysis and manipulation. We now have tools to deliver components between membranes and across membranes as well as analytical methods to measure the composition of membranes with high information content and high spatial resolution.

Q: In your experience, how have single cell analysis techniques changed over the last 5-10 years and what impact has it had on research?

A: The development of single molecule level analytical methods has dramatically affected the analysis and imaging of cells. Recent developments of superresolution fluorescence methods in particular can provide unprecedented information for labeled components. Of course there are many other components so methods with a higher degree of multiplexing are desirable - mass spectrometry and imaging mass spectrometry have that potential. As mentioned above, the majority of single cell analysis work focuses on genetic variation, transcript and protein levels that distinguish normal from abnormal cells. Most of the other speakers will emphasize this.

Q: What are some of the innovations you think will occur in the area of single cell analysis in the future?

A: Methods for encoding distinguishing features among a multitude of components in cells (i.e. high level multiplexing) without interfering with their function is a major challenge. While each group specializes in the development of different analytical approaches, applying all of them in parallel on comparable systems to the extent possible will be necessary. Then systematizing and understanding how complex functions emerge from all of this will require new theoretical frameworks.

More information about Dr. Boxer’s talk and the Single Cell Analysis agenda can be viewed here >>

You can register to attend here >>

Posted By: SelectBio Blogger

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Welcome 2014! Exciting Conference Programs Ahead!
09 Jan 2014

It has been a cool start to the year here in the UK, with our typical on-again off-again rain showers. I am so looking forward to our first big multi-conference program in sunny Barcelona!

Here at SELECTBIO, we're kicking off the year with a deep dive into all things chemical from 18-19 February at the Hesperia Tower in Barcelona. One of Barcelona's tallest towers and a city landmark, the Hesperia Tower not only offers a great venue for the conferences but also really cozy accommodations right next to a main train station near the Port of Barcelona. Convenience, comfort, and a comprehensive program of presentations: what's not to like?!

In Barcelona, the Flow Chemistry Society joins us for their 4th European Conference that will cover the latest innovations in flow chemistry as well as microfluidics and meso flow chemistry. If you've registered for the Flow Chemistry Conference, you are also registered for the 10th annual Discovery Chemistry Conference – which addresses drug design, FBLD, protein-protein interactions and chemical biology – as well as the ADME & Predictive Toxicology Congress which will report on the vital role ADME and Predictive Toxicology play in aiding successful drug candidate identification and design. Your head will be spinning with all the information you'll learn!

Our next big multi-conference venue takes place in beautiful Berlin from 10-11 March and includes Advances in Biodetection & Biosensors, Advances in Microarray Technology, Lab-on-a-Chip European Congress and Single Cell Analysis Europe 2014. In fact, SELECTBIO has almost three dozen conferences scheduled throughout 2014 – so of course we have to combine them! This works out really well for everyone!

If you can't join us in Barcelona in February, try for one of our conferences there from 14-15 May. If you're involved in lab informatics, this is the set of conferences to attend: European Lab Automation and High Content Analysis. Data management has moved way beyond organizing and categorizing and into the realm of 3D manipulations that will blow your mind (and set your intellect blazing!). Alternatively, at the Fira Barcelona Gran Via Conference Centre, we're hosting four other conferences that will help "advance" your knowledge: Advances in NGS & Big Data, Advances in qPCR and dPCR, Advances in Cellular Assays & Cell Culture, and Advances in Automation & Robotics. With a focus on new developments and new technology, you're sure to learn many details about cutting-edge research to help deepen your understanding and improve your own research efforts.

That's not all of course, I'm delighted to tell you that we've got some wonderful life science events planned all around the world, from Mumbai to California and many spots in between. Please check our conference listing to see what programs offer the most relevant presentations for you.

See you in 2014!

Posted By: SelectBio Blogger

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Conference News
Panel Discussion led by John Sterling, Editor-in-Chief, GEN
Panel Discussion led by John Sterling, Editor-in-Chief, GEN
John Sterling, Editor-in-Chief, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN) will lead a panel discussion on the current translational trends in stem cells at the Clinical Translation of Stem Cells Palm Springs Conference. Not to be missed, Register Today.


Catalan Experience - 17:00-19:00 13th May 2014
Catalan Experience - 17:00-19:00 13th May 2014

Join us at the Opening Reception for this year’s European Lab Automation, to experience a selection of tapas, local wines and beers, whilst enjoying the sounds of a Gypsy guitarist.

Also incorporated into the evening is the European Life Science Awards, which celebrates the very best of the industry's achievements.


Site Visit to the SIMTech Microfluidics Foundry
Site Visit to the SIMTech Microfluidics Foundry
Take advantage of a tour of the facilities at the SIMTech Microfluidic Foundry. Dr. Zhiping Wang, Director of Research Programmes, will be your host, providing all attendees with a detailed insight into the advanced work carried out by SIMTech. Don't miss out - Register today!


Introduction of miRNA Research Reagents and Development of Novel Transfection Reagents using Combinatorial Chemistry and High-Throughput Cell Screening
Introduction of miRNA Research Reagents and Development of Novel Transfection Reagents using Combinatorial Chemistry and High-Throughput Cell Screening
FREE Workshop to attend at our upcoming Genomics Research Event Day 1 1.15PM - 2PM


The International Bioprinting Congress - Tour of facilities at the NTU Additive Manufacturing Centre
The International Bioprinting Congress - Tour of facilities at the NTU Additive Manufacturing Centre
An opportunity not to be missed. Take advantage of a free tour of the new NTU Additive Manufacturing Centre (NAMC). Supported by Singapore’s Economic Development Board (EDB), the NAMC will have the latest 3D printing machines, including bioprinters which are able to print human tissues. The centre opens officially in May 2014, so you will be one of the first to have an official guided tour with the Director of the Facility, Professor Chua Chee Kai.


Submission Deadline Extended to the 20 June 2014
Submission Deadline Extended to the 20 June 2014
Submit your abstract for consideration to present at Lab-on-a-Chip Asia - Microfluidics and Point-of-Care Diagnostics.

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