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SELECTBIO Conferences QbD in Pharma Development World CongressAdvances in NGS - Virtual EventPersonalised Medicine 2015Academic Drug Discovery 2015Advances in qPCR & dPCRePoster Award PrizeBlogs
March 2015
GESIM & Bioprinter - SELECTBIO Berlin Conference review
24 Mar 2015

Whilst at the SELECTBIO Berlin conference I got a chance to explore some of the stalls. I found Dr Hendrik Fiehn from GESIM, and spoke to him about some of his products.

They have designed a 3d printer able to use up to 3 different biocompatible pasty materials, allowing for the production significantly more complex products.
The bioscaffolder can allow hydrogels, bone cements and in many cases cells to be merged into the building materials, or simply pipet cells on 3d structures using nano plotting equipment.  

The machine could be used to produce bio-scaffold structure, that with biodegradable in vitro pastes, could lead the way in a host of novel treatments and therapies in medicine.

But the technology doesn’t only have clinical applications. The bioscaffolder can also be used by researchers working on artificial tissues. Working 3 dimensions vastly increases the opportunities for researchers; and it can be a major improvement on the small 2 dimension constraints of a petri dish. Dr Fiehn says the next step is artificial organs, but its a huge step to take so I won’t be getting too over-excited just yet!

They are also producing non contact microarray nano-plotters, 2d microarrays on flat surfaces. The lack of contact means the nozzle doesn’t touch the surface of the recipient experimental material. This can increase the speed of action, and the efficiency with which the microarray can be performed. The GESIM products certainly seem interesting, and like they’ll have some fantastic practical and experimental benefits in the lab!

Posted By: Charlie Haynes

SELECTBIO Microarray Tech Conference: An interview with Rastislav Levicky
16 Mar 2015

Rastislav Levicky is the Donald F Othermer associate professor at the NYU school of chemical and biomolecular engineering. He will be a keynote speaker at the conference, and gave me a brief insight into what is coming up tomorrow:

What do you do, and what are the main areas of research for your group?

I am a chemical engineer with research interests in behavior of bio-polymers on surfaces and at interfaces. It is this interest that brought us 15 years or so ago to work on topics relevant to DNA microarrays, which combine biological polymers with a rich diversity of interfacial problems. My group presently studies both basic and applied aspects of surfaces modified with DNA, and is also involved with developing nanoliter sampling methodologies and techniques of processing nucleic acid samples for analysis by microarrays or sequencing.

What will your talk focus on?

I will provide an overview of the physical chemistry/basic science aspects of DNA microarrays, covering some of our own work as well as that of others. It is meant to be a selective review of DNA microarray topics of interest from a surface engineer's or physical scientist's perspective. I will also discuss ways we believe DNA microarrays could be improved, primarily focusing on ways to simplify their application.

>- Why is your research important? What could it lead to?
A lot of our work is motivated simply by natural curiosity to understand how DNA behaves in the highly crowded conditions encountered at interfaces and on microarrays. We also strive to apply this basic understanding to the design of improved diagnostic technologies. One topic we have been exploring are benefits of nonionic DNA analogues called morpholinos, instead of DNA, for making of microarrays. I will discuss some of that work as well.

>- What are you most looking forward to at the conference?

This will be my first time at a SELECTBIO event but I am looking forward to learning from the other talks - and Berlin is a great venue to visit!

The SELECTBIO microarray conference will deliver an insight into the latest developments in clinical uses of microarrays, including pre-implantation diagnosis, pre- & post-natal chromosomal analysis, and the clinical utility of gene expression signatures. Those at the conference will hear from leading international speakers about novel technology developments being carried out in this field.
The conference will be co-located with Biodetection & Biosensors, Point-of-Care Diagnostics and Lab-on-a-Chip. 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.

Posted By: Charlie Haynes

Interviews with Sam Sia and John Connor - Point of Care Diagnostics 2015
16 Mar 2015

SELECTBIO point of care diagnostics conference 2015 preview

The SELECTBIO point of care diagnostics conference is only a few days away. In preparation for this I caught up with 2 of the fantastic speakers lined up. John H. Connor (JC) is an associate professor of microbiology at Boston University and a virologist by training. He spends his time identifying novel viral molecules and trying to improve current viral diagnostics. Samuel Sia (SS) is an associate professor of biomedical engineering at Columbia University, and his focus is on the use of microfluidics for global health diagnostics and for 3D tissue biology. T

So what is it that you do? 

SS: Our goal is to miniaturize complex lab-based blood tests into a format available to everyone - at the upcoming conference i’ll be talking about our work on smartphone-based blood tests

JC: My talk with is on an interdisciplinary viral diagnostic project, thats I’ve been collaborating with Selim Ünlü with from the BU engineering department. We want to make diagnostics both better and easier! We are using reflective light to identify and classify viruses, lassa, Ebola and others with multiple tests 

Why are point of care diagnostics so important?

SS: In a global health setting, healthcare workers can go to remote areas to diagnose and treat patients.  In Europe and U.S., these tests can fundamentally transform the healthcare system by enpowering patients and consumers to monitor their own health.
JC: There is a major deficiency of portable accurate point of care diagnostic testing devices. We want to build a tool that is mobile, simple, quick and can be used by anyone. 
This is bringing together a lot of developments, and we are seeing a high level of sensitivity as well as data collection, sending data to researching epidemiologists in real time. This data can allow epidemiologists to notice patterns begin to emerge, and quickly respond to major health crisis'. 

Have you been to a SELECTBIO event before?

SS: I've spoken at SelectBio conferences in the past and have enjoyed the meetings.  

JC: I've never been to a SELECTBIO event before, but I'm excited to come along. The international perspective, and the opportunity to interact with my European colleagues will be a great resource to help address the challenges we all have. It might be meeting resources in limited settings, how people approach the technology, and how to develop a technology that is robust and capable of meeting our needs. 

SS: I am particularly looking forwards to meeting new people with new ideas.

This is the 3rd annual Point of Care Diagnostics conference, and it will be co-located with Biodetection & Biosensors, Microarray Technology and Lab-on-a-Chip. 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.

Be sure to keep up with the goings on at the conference with the #POCD2015 hashtag!

Posted By: Charlie Haynes

Update on Lab-on-a-Chip & Microfluidics, 17th and 18th March 2015, Berlin Germany
10 Mar 2015

The SELECTBIO lab on a chip conference is only next week. Soon leaders from both industry and academia will be jetting off to Berlin, taking advantage of a fantastic opportunity to network with like minded individuals, and discussed shared challenges. Labs-On-Chips from a variety of contexts will be explored; from the enhancement of lab research, to taking diagnostics to the point of need. I caught up with a few of the speakers to get a sneak-preview of what’s coming up.

Roland Zengerle from the University of Freiburg is researching microfluidics, aiming to improve the efficiency of both life sciences diagnostics and therapy. He’s going to be speaking twice at the conference next week.

In my first talk I will present the LabDisk platform which enables molecular diagnostics at the point-of care with real world samples. The light weight platform employs centrifugation for assay miniaturization and automation. It enables screening for infectious diseases from samples to result currently within approx. 2 hours in a fully automated fashion. In the future we expect that this will be possible in 30 minutes.

In my second talk I will present a new instrument to select, separate and print individual single cells and bacteria encapsulated within picoliter droplets onto any surface you might think of. We expect this to be an enabler for the development of clonal cell lines and single cell genomics.

He expects their LabDisk platform to lead to faster diagnostics at the point-of-care, enhancing the health situation of patients not only in developed countries but also in the developing countries.

I have spoken at several SELECTBIO conferences in the past and I like the atmosphere. It’s a good place to meet not only other scientists but also professionals from industry. I expect fruitful discussions and hopefully new collaboration partners.

Dino Di Carlo chatted to us earlier this year. He said that ‘it has been clear over the last decade that microfluidics can contribute to the molecular analysis of cells, automating and speeding up reactions and separations, and performing analyses in formats that are portable. Molecular analyses will continue to be important in diagnostics as they can enable readouts of root causes of diseases that have a small number of “driving” pathways that are aberrant.”

He describes how challenges now facing scientists revolve around integrating component to address needs in a simple, low cost and robust manner.

The conference in Berlin next week should be a fantastic opportunity of scientists, technologists and engineers to discuss and collaborate ideas as to just how these challenges can be met most effectively.

Posted By: Charlie Haynes

An Interview with Dino Di Carlo
21 Jan 2015

Dr Dino Di Carlo is speaking at the forthcoming Lab-on-a-Chip & Microfluidics conference that is being held in Berlin on the 17th and 18th March 2015.  We caught up with him earlier this month:

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

Dino: It has been clear over the last decade that microfluidics can contribute to molecular analysis of cells, automating and speeding up reactions and separations, and performing analyses in formats that are portable. Molecular analyses will continue to be important in diagnostics as they can enable readouts of root causes of diseases that have a small number of “driving” pathways that are aberrant. I will discuss recent work on using microtechnologies to quantify and automate the analysis of physical properties of cells. These types of measurements can be rapid, cost-effective, and integrate many molecular changes into functional phenotypic changes that are indicative of disease. We feel there are significant opportunities in diagnostics and drug discovery that make use of physical biomarkers of cells. I will discuss some of the technologies we have developed and application areas we are pursuing.

SELECTBIO: What do you feel are the current challenges in microfluidics and Lab-on-a-Chip technologies?

Dino: I think we now have a good understanding of fundamental operations that can be performed in microfluidic formats and many of the challenges now revolve around integrating components to address needs in the lowest cost, simplest, and robust manner.

SELECTBIO: Tell us more about the intersection of biology and engineering at the micro and nanoscale; what makes this area so exciting?

Dino: Micro & nanotechnologies we can fabricate intrinsically match the scales of cells and molecules. It is extremely exciting that we can now interface with biology at its scale. Further automation of biological discovery using miniaturization and arraying is also powerful and I think will enable exponential increases in understanding of biological systems.

SELECTBIO: What sparked your interest in microfluidics and Lab-on-a-Chip; i.e., how did you get started in the field?

Dino: I was first interested in genetic engineering and prior to my undergraduate education I was under the impression that scientists had cracked biology and could rationally “engineer” cell behaviour. It turns out this is only possible in a limited number of cases, although new tools for genome editing are being developed that are extremely exciting. I came to the realization that we need to accelerate the rate of biological discovery for true engineering of cellular systems to be possible and microfluidics technology was a great enabler for such a goal.

SELECTBIO: What are some of the more interesting findings that have come about as a result of your investigations using microfluidics and Lab-on-a-Chip?

Dino: My investigations introduced the effects of fluid momentum (inertia) as a useful physical tool to manipulate particles, cells, and fluids in microfluidic systems. Using these passive forces one can, for example, perform sample preparation and analysis steps on cells in a controlled manner and at high rates.

SELECTBIO: What are some of the innovations you think will occur in the area of microfluidics and Lab-on-a-Chip methodologies in the future? 

Dino: Compartmentalization of samples into small (picoliter or smaller) volumes has been a useful feature for a variety of molecular and cellular analyses. I envision that we will see other clever assays that rely on compartmentalization for diagnostics. I also see that microfluidic logic (i.e. control of microfluidic operations with logic gates that rely on flow of fluids not electrons) will see a revival and may open up future automation in low cost formats. I think 3D printing will play an increasingly important role in microfluidic porotyping as well.

Posted By: Dino Di Carlo

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