|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.
Posted By: SelectBio Blogger
|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.
Posted By: SelectBio Blogger
|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 »
Posted By: SelectBio Blogger
|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!
Posted By: SelectBio Blogger
|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.
Posted By: SelectBio Blogger
|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/
Posted By: SelectBio Blogger
|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 »
Posted By: SelectBio Blogger
|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
|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