|ADME and Toxicity - Problems in Prediction|
27 Nov 2013
An interview with Dr. Hugo Kubinyi...
One of the most intellectually demanding challenges in toxicology today is the development of quantitative structure-activity relationship (QSAR) models that provide accurate predictive variables to the potency of the response variable. Prediction technology is at the forefront of scientific R&D. The desire to drive down the cost of discovering and developing new drugs is driving prediction technology as a replacement for detection technology.
SELECTBIO's 7th annual ADME & Predictive Toxicology Congress will be held in Barcelona, Spain from 18-19 February 2014. The congress will focus on this challenge, and report on the vital role ADME and Predictive Toxicology play in aiding successful drug candidate identification and design. Ensuring drugs make it to the market quicker with higher hit rates and earlier indications of human toxicity issues are of the utmost importance and will be discussed at length during this event. Co-located with the ADME & Predictive Toxicology conference will be the Discovery Chemistry Congress and Flow Chemistry Europe meetings.
Keynote speaker, Dr. Hugo Kubinyi, Retired Professor, BASF SE & University of Heidelberg, will discuss problems in prediction. 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 ADME and toxicity prediction you plan to cover during your keynote speech?
A: The focus will be on the biological complexity that makes ADME and toxicity predictions so difficult.
Q: What do you feel are the current challenges in predictive toxicity?
A: They are twofold: on the one hand, we need a better understanding of the different mechanisms leading to ”toxicity”, on the other hand we should not neglect that quite often toxicity does not depend on the chemical entity itself but on the formation of reactive metabolites, even if they are formed only in minor amount.
Q: Your scientific work has resulted in more than 100 publications and seven books on QSAR, 3D QSAR, Drug Design, Chemogenomics in Drug Discovery, and Drug Discovery Technologies. That's exhausting just to think about! But it means you've been involved is some exciting research. What are some of your favorite memories?
A: My favorite memories go back to the time when we still had a quite simple understanding of the relationships between activity/toxicity and lipophilicity. Whereas such relationships exist in certain cases, we know now much more about the many exceptions, such as caused by the transporters being involved in absorption, distribution and elimination, and the role of reactive metabolites in toxicity. Thus, I lost confidence in the relevance of ”general” QSAR models, especially in their ability to predict.
Q: What are some of the more interesting findings that have come about as a result of your investigations in predictive toxicology?
A: Because of all the involved problems I never dared to predict ”toxicity”. The manyfold reasons for this will be discussed in my presentation.
Q: You are currently a member of several Scientific Advisory Boards; what is some of the most significant research about medicinal chemistry that you've observed?
A: Well, there are so many that it is impossible to generalize. Whereas the knowledge of the human genome did not result in a breakthrough in drug discovery, focus on new targets, in first line the kinases, and the application of virtual screening resulted in many exciting new drugs. The understanding of signaling pathways better explains activity but also lack of activity of drugs that act on a certain target.
Q: In your experience, how has predictive toxicology changed over the last 5-10 years and what impact has it had on research?
A: There is only slow progress in the field. Hopefully the better understanding of the formation of reactive metabolites will result in better predictions of potential toxic effects of xenobiotics; see A. S. Kalgutkar, D. Dalvie, R. S. Obach, and D. A. Smith, Eds., Reactive Drug Metabolites (Volume 55 of Methods and Principles in Medicinal Chemistry, Mannhold, R., Kubinyi, H., and Folkers, G., Eds.), Wiley-VCH, Weinheim, 2012.
Q: What are some of the innovations you think will occur in the area of predictive technology in the future?
A: The innovations will occur in several different directions: by a better understanding of the metabolism of xenobiotics, such as:
- knowledge-based approaches as well as molecular interaction fields (MIFs) for predicting the sites and products of metabolism
- the application of pharmacophore-based methods for anti-target identification and for predicting the inhibition and induction of metabolic enzymes
- novel biomarkers of toxicity
- systems biology (once this discipline develops from description to understanding), and
- advanced in vitro systems for the prediction of in vivo toxicity.
You can hear more from Dr. Kubinyi and other thought leaders at the Discovery Chemistry Congress. For more information visit: http://selectbiosciences.com/conferences/index.aspx?conf=DCC2014
You can register to attend right here.
Posted By: SelectBio Blogger
|Getting the Most Out of Your Conference Experience|
13 Nov 2013
Plan Ahead to Ensure that You Meet All Your Conference Objectives
You've found the perfect conference to attend. The presentations cover several technologies that you want to know more about. The speakers are knowledgeable and right in the thick of the latest research. The location and date are convenient for your busy schedule. So how do you ensure that you get the most out of the conference? It's not easy to find the time to plan skillfully, but doing some strategic preplanning can enable you to maximize your conference experience.
First, plan early. Take advantage of early discounts whenever possible. Many conferences offer early registration, which can amount to significant financial savings. And plan your travel early too. Early travel planning will ensure the best choices and costs for flights and hotel accommodations. Don't forget to account for travel times to and from the conference; nowadays we have to factor in arriving at the airport at least an hour prior to our flight as well as extra time if we're getting there during commute hours.
Next, review the conference schedule. SELECTBIO always publishes a preliminary schedule that gives you enough detail about the presentations to pick the ones of interest to you. Listening to presentations provides information about the research that others are doing, particularly if the presenter has written papers about the topic, and you get to ask questions. You'll find that certain presentations will inspire research ideas of your own; not always the presentation that you thought most important. Don't forget to review the schedule before your trip as it may determine which flight you take.
It makes sense to create a personalized conference agenda for yourself, starting with the flight dates and times, and including the conference sessions that you really want to attend. This creates the beginning of your daily schedule. Now you know that you must leave no later than a certain date and time in order to arrive fresh and ready for the conference.
Once you arrive at the conference site, find the registration area and check in. Pick up the registration materials, which typically include presentation dates and times, session room locations, a name tag, and other conference related information. Quickly review these materials to get an overview of the convention center, planned activities and their location.
It's a good idea to attend the major sessions. Conferences typically have three kinds of sessions: major sessions, breakout sessions, and informal self-paced sessions. The major or plenary sessions are opportunities for all delegates to assemble in one large room to hear an expert speaker. These sessions can occur at the beginning of the conference (opening sessions), during the conference (keynote), or at the end of the conference (closing sessions). There usually are not opportunities for audience participation; that comes later during the breakout presentations. Major session topics will usually have broad audience appeal and prestigious speakers.
Once the opening session is concluded, you're free to attend key breakout sessions that you already determined in your personalized conference agenda. Breakout sessions typically consist of multiple concurrent sessions attended by a small portion of the audience. Because these sessions are usually shorter and more informal, you'll get a chance to ask questions after each presentation.
It's a good idea to participate in self-paced sessions that allow you to engage in some additional informal learning. These sessions can include viewing poster displays created by peers, visiting exhibitors’ booths, or viewing other demonstrations. The exhibition floor in particular provides an excellent opportunity to get additional information about products and services related to the conference agenda. Exhibitors may include recruiters, product distributors, professional organizations, publishers or others. Make sure you include time to meet with exhibitors during the conference. It's a good idea to schedule meetings ahead of time with key exhibitors to ensure that they are available when you have time.
Don't forget to take notes! Keep a list of new ideas or things to try later. Frequently conference organizers will provide a booklet of conference proceedings that includes session abstracts, presentation slides or handouts. Many people find it easy to take notes on an electronic tablet, particularly when the presenter offers online links to their slides or other items of interest.
One of the most important aspects of conference participation involves networking. Wear your name badge during the conference so others can identify you. Take advantage of meals, refreshment breaks, and time before and after sessions to network with other conference attendees. Conferences offer an important opportunity for you to get to know colleagues, establish new professional contacts, and share business cards. Tell people about your research as well as ask others about their work. You'll learn a lot by listening and by asking questions.
Don’t forget to have some fun. Many conferences occur in exciting cities, so make sure that you schedule some free time before and after the conference to enjoy the local tourist, cultural, and shopping opportunities. Many conferences also offer special off-site activities that you might want to attend. For instance, at the Lab-on-a-Chip Asia conference in Singapore, there is a Post Event Lab Tour that includes visits to Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology, Nanyang Technological University, and National University of Singapore. Treats like these can add depth and diversity to your conference experience.
Here at SELECTBIO we specialize in creating outstanding conference experiences. Our conference portfolio of global life science conferences are designed to provide you with a rich learning and networking environment where you can share and discuss the latest developments in your field. From cutting-edge technologies to advanced research, we're sure to have a conference that suits your needs!
Posted By: SelectBio Blogger
|SIMTech Plans Lab Tours to Coordinate with Lab-on-a-Chip Asia 2013 Conference |
06 Nov 2013
Attendees at the inaugural Lab-on-a-Chip (LOAC) Asia 2013 conference this year are in for a big treat: not one but three lab tours! A very special visit to the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology's (SIMTech) Microfluidics Foundry, the MEMS and Microfluidics labs at Nanyang Technology University and the Nano Biomechanics lab at the National University of Singapore are all set for the morning of November 14 following the conference.
Lab on a Chip Asia 2013 will be held November 12-13 in Singapore. The LOAC agenda has been built around providing attendees with insights into the latest developments in microfluidics and microfabrication. The roster of international speakers will discuss new ways to optimise processes and overcome challenges as well as deliver details about upcoming applications of Labs-on-Chips in this quickly evolving field. The conference is co-located with Screening Asia and Genomics Research Asia. Registered delegates will have access to all three meetings.
SIMTech, the co-organisers of Lab-on-a-Chip Asia, is a research institute of Singapore's Agency for Science and Technology Research (A*STAR) and has been closely involved with helping organize a very exciting program for the conference. LOAC Asia has been specially timed to coordinate with SIMTech's 20th anniversary celebrations.
Conference Chair, Dr. Zhiping Wang, Director of the SIMTech Microfluidics Foundry, provides more details below.
SELECTBIO: Can you tell us more about SIMTech and why this 20th anniversary is such a significant milestone?
Wang: The Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech) is a research institute of the Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC) of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). SIMTech develops high value manufacturing technology and human capital to contribute to the competitiveness of the Singapore industry. It collaborates with multinational and local companies in the precision engineering, electronics, semiconductor, medical technology, aerospace, automotive, marine, logistics and other sectors.
SIMTech celebrates its 20-year milestone of R&D partnerships with Singapore's manufacturing industry in growing intellectual capital, industry capital and human capital to enhance its competitiveness. To date, SIMTech has completed more than 5300 projects for more than 1300 companies, benefitting them in productive growth, creating new products and growing into new markets.
SELECTBIO: I understand that SIMTech's collaborative industry projects are designed to overcome R&D's needs for capital, both in cash and people. Can you tell us more about how SIMTech enables research organizations to overcome these obstacles?
Wang: Research and development in technology needs capital outlay and access to relevant human capital - two of the more scarce resources for companies, especially for SMEs. The consortium or CIP (Collaborative Industry Projects) approach, where a grouping of industry and research partners with similar technology needs, benefits members through sharing of resources and expertise, accelerates the adoption of emerging technologies. SIMTech, by contributing the research expertise and facilities, is a catalyst for industry partners to create new technologies for applications in industry.
SELECTBIO: Why did you pick the three post conference lab tours that are scheduled for November 14? What makes the tours unique?
Wang: The lab tour covers SIMTech Microfluidics Foundry, Micro/Nanofabrication Lab in Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Nano Biomechanics Lab in Department of Bioengineering, National Singapore University (NUS). Representing the tens of active microfluidics labs (centres) in Singapore, these three labs exhibit cutting-edge research facilities and competencies, application-oriented research topics, and close ties with industries. During the lab tour, the visitors will have the chance to see the state-of-the-art instruments and meet with the scientists/engineers for discussion.
SELECTBIO: Are there particular technologies and R&D that SIMTech specializes in?
Wang: SIMTech's research competencies encompass automation, manufacturing IT and process technologies. Precision molding, laser machining, surface coating, metal and polymer joining, and 3D printing are some of the advanced manufacturing process technologies SIMTech can offer. Mechatronics Group and Precision Measurements Groups are addressing the needs for instrumentation and automation. Manufacturing Execution and Control Group and Planning and Operations Management Group provide the system level manufacturing solutions. Tapping on the competences of SIMTech research groups, the two multidisciplinary research programs; i.e., Microfluidics Manufacturing Programme (MMP) and Large Area Processing Programme (LAP), focus on the nurturing and growing of emerging industry
SELECTBIO: What's it take to become a member of SIMTech?
Wang: The SIMTech Membership Programme provides an ideal platform for local manufacturing companies to collaborate in R&D initiatives that help reduce their market risks while creating new opportunities. Companies will be able to engage in chapters and form special interest groups to spearhead R&D projects. Specifically for nurturing and growing the emerging microfluidics industry, SIMTech offers SIMTech Microfluidics Membership Network (SMN), which provides a microfluidics industrialisation platform for start-ups and research groups which are developing microfluidic products and moving towards commercialisation.
SELECTBIO: In your experience, how have microfluidics technologies changed over the last 5-10 years and what impact has it had on SIMTech's research?
Wang: We are observing the evolution of microfluidics technologies in many dimensions. One is the continuous progressive in the productisation and commercialisation, which migrates many of the microfluidics innovations from laboratories to companies, especially technology start-ups, and brings the lucky ones to the market. Another trend is the growing ubiquity of the microfluidics, leveraging fast growing application studies in areas such as healthcare, drug discovery and delivery, biomaterial synthesis, food and environment safety, etc.
SIMTech launched the Microfluidics Manufacturing Programme (MMP) in 2007, tapping the institute's multidiscipline technologies to develop, test and implement manufacturing technologies for microfluidics applications. In 2011, SIMTech Microfluidics Foundry (SMF) was launched, providing design, prototyping, and production services for microfluidic devices. In 2012, SIMTech Microfluidics Membership Network (SMN) was launched in order to promote the adoption of microfluidics technology, and assist members to accelerate technology commercialization through this microfluidics industrialisation platform.
SELECTBIO: What are some of the innovations you think will occur in the area of microfluidics in the future?
Wang: We foresee numerous technical innovations occur in microfluidics, for example in the way of device formation and system integration. The 3D or freeform microfluidic device will boost the process throughput and connectivity of the next-generation lab-on-a-chip system. In the meantime, establishing biomimetic microenvironment in microfluidic devices has gained strong research due to the significance in the critical applications such as the in-vitro cell analysis and drug screening, and impactful breakthroughs could be expected in this area.
SELECTBIO: What's the most important thing you hope attendees take away from the LOAC Asia conference?
Wang: Inspiration. We hope that the conference attendees can be well inspired by the cutting-edge microfluidic research through the keynote lectures, invited presentations and lab tours. We also hope fresh product ideas and new business opportunities can be inspired from the company exhibition, cocktail reception and tea session.
More information about the events taking place at Lab-on-a-Chip Asia can be found here »
Posted By: SelectBio Blogger
|Challenges and Solutions for Implementing Next Generation Sequencing Diagnostics in Asia|
01 Nov 2013
An interview with Dr. Richie Soong...
"Next generation sequencing promises much to clinical diagnostics with its digital output, speed, and depth and breadth of coverage," states Dr. Richie Soong, Senior Principle Investigator for the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore. He plans to discuss next generation sequencing (NGS) during the upcoming Genomics Research Asia conference in Singapore from 12-13 November, 2013.
Genomics Research Asia will be co-located with Lab-on-a-Chip Asia and Screening Asia, delivering a wealth of detail on emerging developments in not only NGS, but also in microRNAs and epigenetics.
Today's blog finds out more about Dr. Soong and his exciting research.
SELECTBIO: Your presentation is titled "Implementing Next Generation Sequencing Diagnostics in Asia". What are some of the key points you plan to cover?
Soong: I will cover some of the key issues with getting next generation sequencing ready for implementation into diagnostics. Nuances of executing this in the local health system will be highlighted.
SELECTBIO: What do you feel are some of the most challenging current issues that need to be addressed in NGS?
Soong: With respect to implementation of NGS into diagnostics, well-curated databases linking variants to clinical phenotypes are required.
SELECTBIO: You consider these issues to include technical, cultural, financial and regulatory challenges. This sounds complicated enough; how is addressing these challenges in Asia different?
Soong: Asia has a more ‘user-pays’ health system, as opposed to the national healthcare or insurance systems in Western countries. The ‘user-pays’ changes the throughput, demand, cost and organization as well as regulatory requirements.
SELECTBIO: Can you tell us more about your pilot study on introducing screening for inherited cancer predisposition?
Soong: Performance data is required to have confidence in the implementation of NGS into diagnostics. My presentation will detail our experience in generating this performance data, covering cost models, platforms, turnaround time, quality assurance and technical and clinical precision and accuracy.
SELECTBIO: What do you think it takes to drive success in translating cutting-edge research and delivering diagnostics and therapeutics in Asia?
Soong: Teams with requisite multidisciplinary knowledge and talent, and the consolidated infrastructure to execute and make cost-efficient.
SELECTBIO: What are some of the more interesting findings that have come about as a result of your investigations of NGS?
Soong: That very few NGS findings are reliable enough for diagnostics and therapeutics development.
SELECTBIO: In your experience, how has NGS changed over the last 5-10 years and what impact has it had on your research?
Soong: NGS has started to become accessible to the clinic in terms of cost and user-friendliness. This has increased the volume and capabilities of our translational research.
SELECTBIO: What are some of the innovations you think will occur in the area of translational research, diagnostics and therapeutics in the future?
Soong: Sooner or later there will be pipelines for implementation of NGS into diagnostics. This will initiate changes in healthcare models, patient management and outcomes. Single cell analysis will increase, and there will also be more strategies developed to better integrate information from different platforms.
More information about Dr Soong’s talk and Genomics Research Asia can be found here -->
Posted By: SelectBio Blogger
|Advances in Discovery Technologies to be Highlighted at Screening Asia|
23 Oct 2013
will be the place to be this November! Not only is it a wonderful time of the
year to visit, the 3rd Screening Asia conference will take place at the
exciting Biopolis complex in Singapore from November 12-13. Featuring Dr Hakim
Djaballah, Director of the HTS Core Facility at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer
Center as Conference Chair, this event will provide attendees with insights
into the latest developments in screening technologies and their applications.
Learn About the Latest
During this conference, you'll learn about advances in discovery technologies,
including 3D cell-based assays and label free screening, as well as the use of
model organisms such as C.
conference agenda is divided into two key focus areas: advances in enabling
discovery technologies on day one, and Natural Product Diversity & Novel
Chemistries to Fill in the RnD Pipeline on day two. If you caught last week's blog interview
with Dr. Barry O'Keefe, you won't want to miss his keynote presentation on Screening
Natural Product Extracts in Cell-free and Cell-based Assays Systems.
Running alongside the Screening Asia 2013 conference will be an exhibition
covering the latest technological advances and associated services within this
field. Registered delegates will also have access to the co-located Lab-on-a-Chip Asia
and Genomics Research Asia
Explore Super Cool Singapore
conference will be held at the amazing Matrix@Biopolis campus in Singapore.
Both the Matrix and the Park Avenue Rochester Hotel (which is the conference headquarters
hotel) are just a few minutes walk from the Buona Vista MRT (Mass Rapid
Transit) station. Surrounded
by the greenery of Rochester Park, the hotel is also situated close to
Rochester Mall and Holland Village, both of which offer numerous dining and
international research and development centre for biomedical sciences, Biopolis
provides space for biomedical research and development activities. The Matrix
building was designed by world-renowned architect Zaha Hadid, and is comprised
of an 185,000 m2 (2,000,000 ft2) biomedical complex
of seven buildings.
you can tear yourself away from this outstanding complex, then the MRT Station
can whisk you all over Singapore to enjoy other activities in this busy port
city. In fact, Singapore is one of the five busiest ports in the world as well
as being the fourth leading financial centre.
a wander through Gardens by the Bay
is a marvelous treat. Spanning 101 hectares, this award-winning horticultural
attraction houses over 250 thousand rare plants. The Gardens include three
spaces—Bay South, a mega-large waterfront garden with Supertrees that have to
be seen to be believed; Bay East, which offers a variety of pavilions and a
two-kilometre waterfront promenade; and, Bay Central, which offers a
conservatory complex that won the World Building of the Year at the World Architecture
Festival 2012. This is a not-to-be-missed experience.
art museums and galleries to the performing arts, Singapore offers a plethora
of choices. The Singapore Art Museum
offers one of the largest public collections of modern and contemporary
Southeast Asian art and will have just opened their Singapore Biennale 2013
exhibit that examines the question "If the world changed, what are our
propositions and possibilities?" For a completely different yet equally
introspective experience, visit the NUS Museum that
features the social history and art of Asia.
If you're looking for adventurous things to do, there are many sporting and
recreational activities that you can participate in. There are indoor sports,
water sports, spectator sports, outdoor sports and more to watch or
participate. If the conference is not exciting enough for you, try bungee jumping!
around Singapore is easy, whether by MRT, bus or taxi. MRT
offers the fastest way to get around the island and has been laid out to take
advantage of scenic views as well as efficient travel from one spot to the
next. Before the conference, don't forget to download the MRT smartphhone app
with the train routes and station locations to make getting around quick and
more about what to do in Singapore, visit the official tourist website at: http://www.yoursingapore.com.
can find out more about Screening Asia and co-located events here
Posted By: SelectBioBlogger
|Screening Natural Product Extracts in Cell-free and Cell-based Assays Systems|
17 Oct 2013
An interview with Dr. Barry O'Keefe...
you ready to learn about the latest developments in screening technologies
and their applications? Look no further than Screening Asia, which will
examine the latest advances in discovery technologies, including 3D
cell-based assays and label free screening, as well as the use of model
organisms such as C.
Screening Asia will be
held at the Biopolis, Singapore from 12-13 November 2013. What makes
Screening Asia unique is a focus on natural product screening and emerging
Natural products are the source of >30% of all approved drugs worldwide
and >50% of anti-cancer drugs approved over the last 10 years. During his
Keynote presentation, Dr. Barry O'Keefe, Section Head of Protein Chemistry
and Molecular Biology for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will
discuss screening strategies for the incorporation of crude natural product
extracts into modern HTS screening programs at the National Cancer Institute
In today's blog, Dr. O'Keefe shares some of the insights he will cover in
more depth during his Keynote speech.
Keynote presentation is titled "Screening Natural Product Extracts in
Cell-free and Cell-based Assays Systems". What are some of the key
points you plan to cover?
Dr O'Keefe: I will be covering many
aspects of screening natural product extracts, including the type of library,
what type of screening endpoints might be useful, assay adaptations for
optimal screening, hit prioritization and methods for improving the overall
efficiency of natural product extract screening.
do you feel are the current challenges in cancer research (with reference to
your work if possible)?
Dr O'Keefe: The basic challenges are
much the same, finding active compounds with low toxicity and good efficacy.
The challenges arise from the targets, which can often be difficult to
address with small molecules. I will be discussing examples of such targets
(i.e. protein-protein interactions or enzymes with macromolecular substrates)
and the screens we developed to interrogate them.
us more about your efforts in the isolation and characterization of bioactive
proteins from natural product extracts.
Dr O'Keefe: The proteinaceous components
of natural product extracts have been largely ignored by natural product
chemists. Rather than look to extreme environments, I have chosen to
concentrate on the components of extracts that have been overlooked. These
proteins have unique structures and, in some cases, bioactivities in
heterologous systems. We have been very successful in isolating and
identifying new proteins with potent antiviral activity. Most of these
proteins have novel structures and have displayed excellent in vivo activity.
are some of the more interesting findings that have come about as a result of
your investigations into the study of novel proteins from natural products
Dr O'Keefe: I have been fortunate to
work on several projects that isolated and characterized novel antiviral
proteins from natural product extracts including cyanovirin-N, sctyovirin and
most recently, griffithsin. These proteins have displayed activity in animals
against numerous viruses including HIV, SARSCoV, HCV, influenza and ebola.
Griffithsin is currently in preclinical development as an anti-HIV
your experience, how have cell-based screening technologies changed over the
last 5-10 years and what impact has it had on your research?
Dr O'Keefe: Importantly, cytotoxicity is
a decreasingly screened endpoint. Meanwhile reporter assays with alternative
endpoints have become increasingly important. Though conceived as
"targeted" assays, reporter assays often result in the
identification of compounds that act in a manner unforeseen when the assay
was developed. This has necessitated better technologies to identify
alternative mechanisms by which these compounds act, which has increased our
overall knowledge of the cross-talk between pathways. The newer high content
imaging technologies have opened new avenues for investigation and endpoints
for measurement which were previously not possible.
you tell us a bit more about the NIH Technology Transfer Award and why it is
significant? I understand that you have received one several times!
Dr O'Keefe: It is an award that
recognizes scientists whose work results in NIH-owned patents and licenses on
their technologies. It is important in that it encourages NIH researchers to
strive to make discoveries that then provide a return on the U.S.
government's investment back to the U.S. taxpayer.
have mentored numerous students, post-doctoral researchers and visiting
scientists and have been nominated for the NCI Outstanding Mentor Award three
times. What does it take to be a successful mentor and why is this important?
Dr O'Keefe: My style of management is, I
am sure, different from many others but the basics are the same for everyone.
I see it as my goal to understand the aspirations and interests of those
associates working in my group and then determine how to marry them to the
overall interests of the Molecular Targets Laboratory and the Center for
Cancer Research. The more successful these younger researchers are, the
better for our laboratory. I simply try to ease their path to success.
are some of the innovations you think will occur in the area of screening
technology and methodology in the future?
Dr O'Keefe: Personally, I am most
involved in cell-free assay systems so my interests lie mostly in that
direction. Currently, I am very interested in assay systems that interrogate
macromolecular stability and in their potential application in screening
natural product extracts.
For more information
about Dr O'Keefe's talk at Screening Asia and to view the complete agenda, click
You can register to
Posted By: SelectBioBlogger
|Genomics Research Europe Conference will Deliver Two Tracks on Genetics Research|
09 Oct 2013
Keeping up with the latest in genomic research technologies and public health strategies can sometimes seem like a full-time job in itself. Make it easy on yourself and attend the upcoming Genomics Research Europe conference, which takes place in the beautiful city of Barcelona, Spain from 16-17 October 2013. This dynamic conference is composed of two robust tracks, enabling delegates to gain an improved awareness of current developments in the following fields: New Applications in PCR & Next-Generation Sequencing, and Epigenetics, microRNAs and Non-coding RNAs in Disease. Registered delegates will have access to both meetings.
Learn about the Latest Genomics Research Technologies
Since the completion of the human genome in 2003, the pace of research has continued to build momentum, strewing the path to knowledge with constant challenges. These challenges, particularly in the areas of genomic research technologies and public health strategies, will be addressed at the meeting. So take this opportunity to catch up on the research and catch up with your peers.
Want to dive deep into the PCR expression profiling? Then sign up for Dr. Mikael Kubista's short course on 14-15 October. The course, "Statistical Analysis of Real-time PCR Data/Gene Expression Profiling With Real-time PCR", examines how to select and apply statistics correctly to get the most out of your qPCR data. Learn the best practices in statistical principles and tools that are used in qPCR data analysis. The course includes practical computer-based exercises to help you choose the correct analysis as well as design your experiment in the best way. For details, check out Dr. Kubista's detailed agenda.
The conference takes place at the elegant Fira Palace, which is located in the heart of Montjuic, one of the most cultural areas of Barcelona. Situated between the famous Plaza de España, Gran Via Avenue and the new shopping and entertainment centre "Arenas De Barcelona", the hotel blends expert service to provide guests with a memorable stay.
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. 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 a blast, 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.
Getting around is easy on Barcelona's metro system. Best of all, October is an excellent time to visit the city; you can expect little rain and lots of sun when you venture outside. 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 absolutely stellar!
You can find out more and register for Genomics Research Europe here >>
Posted By: SelectBio Blogger
|Keynote Presentation to Highlight Alternative mRNA Cleavage and Polyadenylation in Genetic Diseases|
02 Oct 2013
Once the summer holidays end, our focus turns back to work with new energy and anticipation. One event to anticipate is the upcoming Genomics Research Europe conference, which takes place in the beautiful city of Barcelona, Spain from 16-17 October 2013.
As you know, there have been constant challenges to genomic research technologies and public health strategies since the completion of the human genome in 2003. Persistent challenges faced by those in this discipline will be addressed at this conference. Further, the conference is composed of two significant tracks, enabling delegates to gain an improved awareness of current developments in the following fields: New Applications in PCR & Next-Generation Sequencing, and Epigenetics, microRNAs and Non-coding RNAs in Disease. Registered delegates will have access to both meetings.
Of particular interest to those involved in mRNA will be Dr. Reuven Agami's Keynote presentation on "Alternative mRNA Cleavage and Polyadenylation in Genetic Diseases". As Head of Division / Group Leader for The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Dr. Agami will discuss the institute's efforts to identify and characterise APA regulators implicated in human genetic disorder and in cancer. SELECTBIO caught up with Dr. Agami for a preview.
SELECTBIO: Your Keynote presentation is titled "Alternative mRNA Cleavage and Polyadenylation in Genetic Diseases". What are some of the key points you plan to cover?
AGAMI: I'm planning to talk about the APA phenomenon and its potential importance. For instance, "which cellular conditions induce it?" Other points include a genetic screen to identify direct regulators of APA, gene expression effects, the effect on microRNA regulation, and the link to a muscular dystrophy called OPMD. I'm also going to take a look at the connection to cellular proliferation and cancer as well as some of the potential future directions.
SELECTBIO: Genomics research is still a relatively young application. Is this why factors that control polyadenylation (APA) are still largely unknown?
AGAMI: Indeed, novel genomic methodologies have paved the way to the discovery that APA is a pervasive phenomenon.
SELECTBIO: What do you feel are the current challenges in genomics research (with reference to your work if possible)?
AGAMI: In this context, I feel the current main challenges are to demonstrate a causal role for extensive APA in regulation of cell proliferation and cancer, and to use this information for cancer diagnosis and treatment.
SELECTBIO: Tell us more about your efforts to identify and characterise APA regulators implicated in human genetic disorder and in cancer.
AGAMI: We have constructed a novel genetic screen for the identification of such regulators. We have characterized one in particular (others have shown 2-3 more), that uses human cellular systems, bioinformatics, mouse models and biochemistry to demonstrate the link between APA and the genetic diseases.
SELECTBIO: Your group at the institute has developed an RNAi vector system called pSUPER. How did this come about?
AGAMI: I conceived the pSUPER RNAI system in a flash while walking in the corridor of my lab. As background, I was working on polymerase 3 promoters during my masters degree at the time, and just read the paper by Victor Ambros about let-7 microRNA in Cell. The connection of endogenous miRNAs, knowledge about the rules of initiation and termination of Polymerase 3 promoters, and siRNAs, created in me the idea of generating siRNAs from a vector. It took only a few months to generate the vectors and test them against p53. The rest is history.
SELECTBIO: Your group has also developed a (microRNA) miRNA expression vector and library containing almost all annotated miRNAs known in the human genome. How has this helped you with your research?
AGAMI: We identified oncogenic and tumor suppressor miRNAs and also elucidated novel ways of their regulation (by RNA binding proteins for example). It helped us to understand fundamental processes in gene regulation by RNA – something that we were not anticipating to occur just a decade ago.
SELECTBIO: In your experience, how have genetic research technologies changed over the last 5-10 years and what impact has it had on your research?
AGAMI: It has expanded our scope; we now think global. Almost all experiments involve extensive data-producing technologies. We almost never start with a single gene, but rather perform a large-scale experiment and from there, using bioinformatics, continue to identify causal hits for further analysis towards better diagnosis and treatment.
SELECTBIO: What are some of the innovations you think will occur in the area of genetic research in the future?
AGAMI: Clearly, long non coding RNAs can be an area of innovation, as they are wide-spread, but little is known about their function.
For a complete listing of SELECTBIO's upcoming conferences, please click here ».
Our next event is Genomics Research Europe, which will be taking place in Barcelona, Spain, on October 16th & 17th.
Posted By: SelectBio Blogger
|Why You Should Attend Conferences and Exhibitions, and Tips for Picking the Right One for You|
25 Sep 2013
When you look over the list of upcoming SELECTBIO conferences, you'll find a dizzying array of topics, applications, and technologies addressed by both broad and very application-specific venues held around the world. Picking the right ones to attend can feel like browsing a box of chocolates: they all look so good! In today's budget-conscious workplace, how do you make the best selection for your needs? The answer will always be a very personal choice based on whether you seek specific information about the latest trends in an application- such as next generation sequencing- or a broader venue that offers multi-track accessibility to several different but related fields where you can pick and choose the sessions to attend. Today's blog provides a list of how to select the right conference for you and how to get the most out of your conferen ce experience.
The Cost to Attend
Your decision starts with your budget. You'll need to decide whether to spend it all on one conference or divide it up among several smaller venues. Part of this decision will be based on where the conference is being held. Obviously a venue that is outside your country or region will have higher travel costs than one closer to home. In addition, you need to consider the time that will be spent away from your office, and what times of the year you can and can not leave your tasks. Old hands know that a lot of extra work must be done before leaving town in order to avoid a huge pile of work to accomplish upon your return.
Therefore, before making a commitment to attend any event, you need to estimate how much it's going to cost. Research all potential expenses: conference fees, hotels, airfare, ground transportation, meals, and time away from the office. You'll want to weigh which events are most likely to fulfill your goals for attending the event. Although a large conference across the country may be alluring, a smaller event closer to home may prove a smarter choice.
Certain cities are less expensive than others. For instance, SELECTBIO's conferences in San Diego, CA generally enable lower hotel and meal costs than the ones in London, UK, which means that the conference location can make a difference in your decision.
Thus some of your first decisions won't be based on what you want to learn from the conference, but the logistics of the budget-travel-time challenges.
Goals while Attending
The next aspect to examine is your reason(s) for attending a conference. Do you want to learn the latest technologies? Do you want to network with peers? Do you want to listen to a particular speaker? Would you like to attend a short course before or after the conference? Once you know your goals, examining the various conference agendas will provide many of the answers to these questions.
Check the exhibitor list for the conference too, and make a list of the vendors whose products and services you would like to know more about. It may make sense to arrange for an in-booth demonstration or meeting with a short list of key vendors ahead of time to ensure that the vendor is available for you at the best time slots in your schedule.
Make a daily agenda before you leave that specifies which presentations you want to attend and the rooms in which they are being held, as well as which vendors you want to visit in the exhibit hall and their booth numbers. If you plan to meet up with colleagues in the evening, make a dinner reservation beforehand as many of the most popular restaurants won't have last minute tables available when there is a conference in town.
Live in the Moment
Once you've made your decision to attend a conference, focus on it and not the workplace tasks you left behind in the office. Access to email while travelling is great, but ... there's not much time during the day to read and respond to daily workplace tasks when you really want to be listening to the speaker at the podium.
Many of SELECTBIO's conferences also provide evening programs, or post event tours, such as the lab tours that will take place after Lab-on-a-Chip Asia and allow attendees an inside look at the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology, Nanyang Technological University, and National University of Singapore.
Most of all, focus on the reasons you are at the conference and take the opportunity to fill in the knowledge gaps on technology and applications that will help you do your job better, more efficiently, more effectively.
For a complete listing of SELECTBIO's upcoming conferences, please click here »
Our next event is Genomics Research Europe, which will be taking place in Barcelona, Spain, on October 16th and 17th.
Posted By: SelectBio Blogger
|Dive Into In-vivo Single Cell Transcript Analyses during Genomics Research Europe - An interview with Philip Day ...|
18 Sep 2013
Are you ready for a sunny break from the office routine and a refreshing dive into the latest in genomics research? Then head to Barcelona, Spain for Genomics Research Europe from 16-17 October. Even better, the conference is comprised of two tracks that will deliver in-depth examinations of: New Applications in PCR & Next-Generation Sequencing, and Epigenetics, microRNAs and Non-coding RNAs in Disease.
Manchester University Reader Philip Day will be presenting a paper on In-vivo Single Cell Transcript Analyses for Systems Modelling. During his research, single cell measurements of DNA, mRNA and protein for bcr-abl was measured in K562 cells to produce a steady state model of BCR.ABL protein abundance per mRNA molecule. His presentation will focus on his findings concerning the impact of heterogeneity and development of in-vivo transcript measurements.
In today's blog, he shares some of the insights he will cover in more depth during his speech.
Q: What do you feel are the current challenges in in-vivo single cell transcript analyses (with reference to your work if possible)?
A: The reason for engaging this type of work is to improve the resolution of data generated to enable enhanced detailed analysis of life processes. For me this means to build more detailed mathematical disease models and using the cell as a common denominator better facilitates the integration of different 'omics since all results relate to a specific molecular event, or perturbation that has taken place. The deal here of course is to be able to isolate analytes from single cells without affecting the accuracy of analysis of other classes of 'omics markers. Challenges are manifold and mainly technical, and will require the determination of cellular heterogeneity to allow this 'background' to be distinguished from signal.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about the innovative tools that you have developed for precise and accurate measurement of transcripts in heterogeneous tissues and for application in cancer studies?
A: My group has expertise to carefully measure transcripts in populations of single cells employing qPCR for high sensitivity. Our knowhow more relates to how cells are handled prior to qPCR, and we have employed FACS and microfluidic platforms to manipulate cells to enable populations of a few hundreds of cells to be subjected to qPCR analysis. To access cells in an intact form, we have developed cancer studies based in leukemia as these cells are already single cells and therefore complex tissue disaggregation can be avoided, and details of tissue architecture do not require annotation as blood has no structure. Studies have developed means to co-analyse mRNA with exo and endo metabolites without any losses of these analytes. We have also more recently been working on the use of atomic force microscopy to add and remove nucleic acids across cells to enable exact perturbation experiments to be performed, where exact removal or addition of molecules of nucleic acids can be correlated to a measured response.
Q: What are some of the more interesting findings that have come about as a result of your investigations into the systems pathology of neuroblastoma and leukemia, and molecular biomarkers relating to prognostics?
A: We have measured heterogeneity across populations of K562 cells. We have also characterised that sub-populations of cells exist that differ in bcr-abl expression (mRNA and protein) and that high levels correlate to more aggressive cell growth and resistance to therapy with imatinib. The term 'biomarker' is another way of saying that we do not know what the molecule does, and this term we avoid! We are trying to ascribe molecular candidates functional roles through the formation of mathematical models and initial studies have been published. miRNAs are being analysed for their impact on changing regulation of bcr-abl and potential repressor proteins are being determined.
Q: How effective do you find working through close collaborative studies with groups in analytical instrumentation, miniaturization, data analysis, text mining and systems biology? What additional insights does such collaboration provide?
A: This is quite a challenge, but pretty much all very positive! The field specialists are diverse and all are keenly interested to contribute translationally to the improvement of cancer treatment. The main point is that none of these can be treated separately and they need themselves to be integrated to enable process and platforms to be built that will enable meaningful models of disease (leukemia) to be constructed. Each is an academic discipline in its own right and all are co-evolving. This and similar studies are hopefully helping to channel the developments in these fields to permit more streamlined and compatible operating systems and software to be developed.
Q: In your experience, how has in vivo single cell transcript analyses changed over the last 5-10 years and what impact has it had on your research?
A: To my understanding in vivo single cell transcript analysis is very limited. More usually GFP-protein in vivo analyses are performed which is not quite the same. Therefore the field has not impacted greatly on my research, and this is the reason why I have sought colleagues who have knowhow to permit transcript analysis in vivo.
Q: What are some of the future innovations you think will occur in the area of biomarker integration for enabling personalized healthcare?
A: Personalized healthcare will only be realized following innovations in single cell analyses. The question links into the earlier question that concerns the integration of highly collaborative studies. If we believe that molecular regulation has a part to play in the control of organ and organism function, then this must be evident at the level of the single cell. Perhaps the field may prove to be highly dependent upon the development of holistic systems models of life and disease processes, such as those relating to the virtual human, but this is a long way from reality. Never the less, colonizing database resources with reliable quantitative molecular data is key to understanding risk groups.
You can find out more details about the program and register to attend here: http://selectbiosciences.com/conferences/index.aspx?conf=GRE2013
Posted By: SelectBioBlogger
|Academic Screening Workshop Provides an in-Depth Look at New Technologies|
11 Sep 2013
Just one week to go before the Academic
Screening Workshop! This interactive
forum encourages participation, so not only will you learn the latest in new
screening technologies but also you'll share experiences with your peers.
The action-packed agenda covers drug discovery
in general, and dives deep into academic screening operations and academia-industry
collaborative efforts, as well as recent trends from industry service-providers
for HTS, chemical libraries, high content screening and RNAi technologies. A
full slate of presentations will cover topics from enabling screening
technologies to the quality of RNAi screening data, while open panel
discussions will occur in the afternoon that will examine highly provocative
topics such as “Data reproducibility and its impact on much needed
breakthroughs to fight disease” or “Efforts and enabling technologies to screen
the undruggable genome”.
Organised by Dr Hakim Djaballah, Director of
the HTS Core Facility at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the workshop
will be held in Baltimore, Maryland from 17-18 September.
A Focus on New Technologies
Dr. Djaballah leveraged his experiences in early drug discovery for pharma and
biotech companies and extensive network of colleagues to craft an insightful
agenda. He focused the talks and panel
discussions to address new technologies that are enabling research labs to move
their research forward in the search for new drugs for cancer and other
diseases. Whether these technologies
were adopted from elsewhere or discovered by the lab, the goal of the
conference is to share some of the hard-won knowledge that leads to a better
understanding of the science behind the research.
"We're interested in any technology that
will help us to develop new drugs for cancer," Dr. Djaballah states about
the labs at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. "But more importantly, to get there we
need to develop new tools. And we spend a fair amount of time looking at new
technologies, whether they'll be beneficial for what we do or not." He hopes that the programme he put together
will drive a greater understanding of the potential for and innovative applications
of these technologies.
The site of the Academic Screening Workshop is
the Sheraton Baltimore North in the pleasant suburb of Towson and has a skywalk
that connects you directly to the Towson Town Center,
Maryland's largest mall. There's a lot
to do downtown in this historic city; more about places to go and things to see
is provided below!
Baltimore is the gateway to the Chesapeake Bay,
and September is one of the best months to visit; the weather is still warm and
sunny, but the trees are taking on the spectacular Fall color that the eastern
coast of the United States is known for. Baltimore's inner harbor has been one
of the major seaports in the United States since the 1700s and started
blossoming into the cultural center of Baltimore in the 1970s. It's easy to
explore the harbor from the water: there are a variety of harbor cruises that
can take you almost anywhere in the inner harbor.
The Maryland Science Center is one
of the most popular destinations in Baltimore, and includes a planetarium as
well as an IMAX theater. Exhibit halls
feature everything from gigantic full-size dinosaurs to the small (but tasty!)
Blue Crab that resides in the Chesapeake Bay.
If art is your thing, there are many museums to
choose from, including the Baltimore Museum of Art,
Maryland's largest art museum; the American Visionary Art Museum, which
displays original works of art created by self-taught artists; or the
Art Museum, which presents 55 centuries
of art from around the world.
If sports is your thing, a visit to Camden
Yards is just minutes away. True
baseball fans will want to see the Baltimore Orioles Hall of
Fame exhibit and the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum located nearby. You can also visit the Sports Legends Museum which
offers 22,000 square feet of artifacts and interactive exhibits, transforming
Camden Station into one of the most spectacular sports museums in America.
There are many historical sites and monuments scattered
around the city. Baltimore has a number
heritage trails that let you explore the
city on either guided or self-guided walks.
The trails wander through lively
neighborhoods as well as beautiful natural settings and past key historic sites. The cobblestone streets of the Fell's Point
trail, for instance, allow you to step back into history when Fell's Point
served as the city's deep-water port for over a century and still retains
relics from its ship-building past.
It's easy to get around Baltimore on
buses and the metro or the light rail system that have connections all over
Baltimore -- there's even a water taxi!
For more about Baltimore, including links to
the city's nightlife and restaurants, visit http://baltimore.org/visitors/tour-baltimore.
There is also still time to register
Posted By: SelectBioBlogger
|September Kicks off the Fall Conference Season with an Exciting Array of Events|
28 Aug 2013
September promises to be a busy month for scientists and researchers on the go. SELECTBIO will be hosting several key conferences during the upcoming month, including the 5th Annual Lab-on-a-Chip World Congress and exhibition that will be held in San Diego, CA (more on what to do in that sunny beach town is provided below).
Lab-on-a-Chip World Congress
The Lab-on-a-Chip World Congress will focus on innovative developments in this exciting field, with presentations that explore the latest advances in microfluidics and microfabrication as well as some of the many Labs-on-Chips applications, from the enhancement of life science research to taking diagnostics to the point of need. Sessions on the agenda include advances in microfluidics, nanotechnology applications, diagnostic and medical applications, and market orientated devices.
If this topic isn't enough for you, the conference will be co-located with Microarray World Congress, Point-of-Care Diagnostics World Congress and Single Cell Analysis Summit. Registered delegates will have access to all four meetings ensuring a very cost-effective trip.
Microarray World Congress
Microarray World Congress will address the wide range of cutting edge research being conducted using Microarray technologies in various scientific fields. Advances in DNA arrays, emerging technologies, advances in protein and anitbody arrays, and drug discovery and development sessions are all on the agenda. Presentations will focus on areas such as DNA / Protein expression profiling and genotyping, tissue arrays for histological analysis and biomarker discovery, providing an in-depth overview of the diverse work being carried out in this important field.
Point-of-Care Diagnostics World Congress
An overview of the point-of-care testing landscape, from novel technologies to regulatory approval, is on the agenda for Point-of-Care Diagnostics World Congress. Experts will cover topics such as emerging technologies in MDx, emerging classes of biomarkers for MDx, oncology biomarkers, MDx for infectious diseases, and cancer personalised medicine.
Single Cell Analysis Summit
Single Cell Analysis Summit will focus on the up and coming area of single cell analysis that zeros in on detecting minute differences in individual cells in order to improve medical tests and treatments.
Numerous experts in this field will be offering insights into the latest methods and techniques being used to image and analyse various cells. Topics to be covered include microarrays and chips for single cell analysis, microfluidics in single cell analysis, signaling in single cell analysis and more.
San Diego City Highlights
Not only will attendees have the opportunity to explore these four applications in detail, but also the city of San Diego is a super place to spend time before and after the conferences. The conference hotel is accessible to many of the best that San Diego has to offer.
Take a wander through the popular Gaslamp Quarter which offers a range of dining, shopping and entertainment options within one of San Diego's most historic areas.
The world-famous San Diego Zoo is also nearby and is home to some of the world's rarest wildlife including giant pandas and koalas.
San Diego's popular QUALCOMM Stadium hosts a variety of events, including major league sports and concerts. You can catch football with the Chargers vs. Houston Texans on September 9th or enjoy festival-style music listening to the Magic Under the Stars Concert on September 13th.
If you want to leave the car at the hotel or are flying into town, there's more than one way to get around San Diego besides your car or taxis. OTIS, The Online Transit Information System, lets you easily get around town using the Metropolitan Transit System's buses, trolleys, or trains.
A visit to the San Diego Wild Animal Park is like a safari to many of the world's most exotic places. There's lots to do in the park, from zipline flights above the animals to tram safaris that provide up close sightings of lions and gorillas and more.
World-renowned Balboa Park is home to fifteen museums, various arts and international culture associations, as well as the San Diego Zoo, making it one of the nation's largest cultural and entertainment complexes.
If you have more time, there's also Legoland California, the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier, Harbor Cruises/Whale Watching, and the Birch Aquarium. Definitely something for everyone in this warm and sunny beach town!
For more about what to do in San Diego, visit http://www.sandiego.org/.
You can register for the show right now by visiting our event sign up page and details on sponsoring can be found here.
Posted By: SelectBioBlogger
|Microfluidics in Life Science: Moving forward by looking back|
09 Aug 2013
field of microfluidics has been around for over two decades now. After
emerging in the 1980s and forming an important component of items as diverse
as inkjet printer cartridges and micro-propulsion devices, the benefits of
microfluidics were soon harnessed for use in life science. However, after a
vast amount of initial interest, hype and funding, the widespread practical
use of microfluidics in the life sciences failed to materialise. In fact,
very few practical microfluidic devices actually made it to market and the
field remained pretty much stagnant for over a decade until the early 2000s.
However, since then the field has been reenergised with the uptake and
practical use of Lab-on-a-Chip (LOAC) technologies in a wide variety of
different laboratories. With areas such as point of care diagnostics leading
the charge, its rapid introduction into rapidly evolving next generation
instrumentation such as massively parallel DNA sequencers is evidence
suggesting that microfluidics/Lab-on-a-Chip technologies may finally realise
have been a number of advancements in materials and technologies over the
last decade that have enabled the development of LOAC technologies as
singular products, as well as facilitating their integration into various
types of research instrumentation. Advances in the fabrication of
microfluidic devices, for example the move from glass and silicon to polymer
based materials, have dramatically lowered the cost and increased the flexibility
of fluidic system design.
Perhaps most significantly, the LOAC community has learnt from the mistakes
made during the 80s and 90s in terms of successful component integration,
product focusing and device manufacture. LOAC device development at this
time, particularly within molecular biology, focused on the development of
individual components, forgetting about the practical aspects of device
integration, sample preparation and reagent stability. This led to a number
of high profile failures during device commercialisation, where the
individual components proved to be incompatible with one another, leaving the
subsequent system ill equipped for widespread use. As a result the field now
places real emphasis on developing coherent and integrated LOAC devices with
a defined project goal.
Additionally the development of 'microfluidic foundries' and the associated
design, fabrication and machining services that they provide, is driving the
uptake of microfluidic devices in general laboratory environments.
Historically, most laboratories considered the integration of microfluidic
systems into their workflows and processes difficult, due to the lack of
internal expertise and experience available. However outsourcing device
development and manufacturing to these foundries means that researchers are
able to design fluidic devices that suit their needs and project goals,
without the need for large scale investment in equipment and personnel.
is clear that microfluidic technologies will play an important role in the
future of the life sciences. The completed commercialisation of microfluidic
technologies still remains difficult, but the recent successes in device
development for molecular and clinical diagnostics, as well as the insertion of
microfluidic technology into instrumentation has shown that it can be done.
Devices that allow patients to conduct self-testing are drawing nearer and
the increasing need to cut costs in basic research will mean that assay
miniaturisation will become increasingly popular. Regardless, researchers
working in the field must remember to think about the goals of the project,
how the device will integrate into an overall workflow and the real-world
benefits provide by the system, designing a product that meets research
and/or diagnostic needs. As such, they must be careful not to slip back into
developing systems that are theoretically sound but do not work practically.
Currently, the future is bright for microfluidics... as long as the industry
continues to learn from the lessons of its past.
Seeing the change
SELECTBIO we have been running a number of LOAC meetings globally over the
last five years and have been fortunate enough to see the changes and
developments in the field. That's why we are delighted to remain at the
cutting edge of the microfluidics industry by working with organisations such
as the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology. As part of their 20th
anniversary celebrations, we'll be co-producing the Lab-on-a-Chip Asia meeting in
Singapore. With an opportunity to have a look around Singapore Institute of
Manufacturing Technology laboratories, it will be a fantastic chance for
delegates to get a feel for how far the discipline has progressed.
Does the future of LOAC technologies sound interesting? If so, you can find
out more by viewing the conference agenda for the LOAC Asia
If you can't make it to Singapore but would still like an opportunity to
network and hear from some of the industries thought leaders, then take a
look at our other LOAC shows - we hold meetings all across the globe,
including Europe, India and North America!
Posted By: SelectBioBlogger
|Screening together:The benefits of academia-industrial collaborations|
05 Aug 2013
The benefits of academia-industrial
the current financial climate, many academic screening centres are receiving
reduced government funding and are coming under increasing pressure to cut
costs. In this week's blog, we look at how fostering collaboration and
knowledge sharing between academia and industry might offer some solutions to
these growing problems. In doing so, we'll hopefully provide some light at the
end of the tunnel for all the screening labs looking for new funding sources
and research ideas.
their very nature, academic screening labs are relatively free to investigate
any disease they choose, without significant influence from financial
motivations. As such, they have the flexibility and adaptability to screen for
drug candidates that Big Pharma would consider economically unviable, such as
those targeting conditions affecting small patient populations or diseases
associated with developing countries. Increasingly, these so called 'Orphan
Diseases' are being targeted by academic labs in partnership with Big Pharma.
This collaborative model is being supported by a number of programs instigated
by the FDA, such as the 'Orphan Drug Designation' program, which provides
institutions and companies with access to additional funding and incentives to
target these conditions. This, coupled with some recent technological
advancements and innovative thinking, has enabled researchers to make progress
investigating many conditions that were previously thought to be 'undruggable.'
At our upcoming Academic Screening Workshop we
dedicate a whole session to this subject. Professor Richard Neubig, from the
University of Michigan will be talking about how he is reversing the
traditional screening paradigm to uncover compounds that are effective against
human scleroderma dermal fibroblasts. Whereas standard screening usually
involves the identification of a molecular target for the disease first and
then screening a number of compounds for their activity against that marker, Dr
Neubig is identifying compounds that have activity against the cells themselves
first without knowing what the molecular marker is.
importantly, we believe that focusing on collaboration and knowledge sharing
within the screening industry is one of the best ways to overcome the current
challenges within the field. The time has come for industry and academia to
work together to innovate and catalyse translational research. That's why the
format of our Academic Screening Workshop includes
two full afternoons of panel discussions, enabling attendees to pose questions
and start discussions with some of the industry's leading lights from academia,
industry and equipment vendors.
Developing New Assays
focus should be given to the development of strategic partnerships and
collaborations that could lead to advancements and breakthroughs in new assay
development. This area is of vital importance if we are to make the path
towards new clinical entities easier and more cost effective. For example, the
increasing use and importance of RNAi screening, a technique that enables the
dissection and elucidation of complex biological processes by silencing gene
expression, has the potential to uncover disease targets and aid therapeutic
development. However, the technique still requires significant assay
development, especially when it comes to pooled RNAi screening approaches in
complex cell model systems. This is proving frustrating for a number of
laboratories and screening centres, because despite its obvious potential, RNAi
screening has yet to deliver the meaningful results that its potential merits.
Find out more at the
Academic Screening Workshop 2013
collaboration with Dr
Hakim Djaballah of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center,
our Academic Screening Workshop is into its 3rd year of providing a forum for
delegates to discuss and share their experiences on all things drug discovery.
If you would like to be kept updated on this year's event, then why not signup to our eNewsletter.
Alternatively, you can register right now by visiting our event sign up page.
Posted By: SelectBioBlogger
|ELA 2013 - A Brief Review |
27 Jun 2013
The dust has now
settled following this year's European Lab Automation show, where the sun shone
down on 2 days of productive presentations and meetings, as well as a great
exhibition, on June 6th and 7th 2013.
Those that attended had the chance to enjoy presentations from some of the
world's key thought leaders across a broad range of conference streams that
included Chemistry Automation & Liquid Handling, High-content Screening
& Cell Based Assays, Nano & Microfluidics, Next-Gen Sequencing and
Following the event, we asked you all for your feedback. We're dedicated to
providing everyone involved in laboratory automation with the best European
event possible. As such, knowing what you liked about ELA 2013, and what you
thought could be improved, will help us to create an event better ELA next year
in Barcelona - so many thanks to all that shared your thoughts! We really
A few key stats from ELA
Here are a few numbers from ELA you might be interested in. There was a slight
increase in attendees compared to last year, while an increased percentage of
those came from academia compared to previous years (in fact, the number of
academics doubled this year). In terms of the individual conference tracks, the
split of attendees was 28% Chemistry Automation, 26% HCS, 17% Biobanking, 15%
NGS, 14% Nano & Microfluidics.
What you all had to say
about ELA 2013
Following ELA 2013, attendees and speakers had many positive things to say:
- "Very nice & interesting with wide range of
research areas" - Institute of Microtechnology, Braunschwieg
- "Globally well organised, with very interesting
talks" - Kirchberg Hospital Luxembourg"
- "Great tracks with interesting talks given by
renowned researchers - University of Strausbourg
- "Thanks for everything, I think the whole meeting
went very well and everyone was very complimentary of the speaker tracks
that you had organized" - National Center for High Content Screening
and Analysis (INCHA)
- "Thanks again for the opportunity, please save me
a spot for next time" - Life Science Methods
- "Concise, good level of speakers and terrific
support staff" - ETH
Overall we also
received positive feedback from this year's exhibitors, with comments
indicating that ELA 2013 was "a well organised event" which "provided
high quality leads" and that the "length of the breaks and networking
times were good." In fact, one exhibitor went on to say that "overall
[they] would rate the event 10/10."
What you'd like us to
We always strive to improve our events and welcome your constructive criticism.
As such, here are a few suggestions we are already responding to in order to
make next year's event in Barcelona even better than this year's. For example,
some exhibitors felt that they needed more exhibition time - in response, next
year we will be holding an opening reception the night before the event to
provide a bit more exposure for exhibitors. I think everyone (including us!)
felt that a sunny Hamburg Friday afternoon made it quite challenging for
attendees, speakers and exhibitors to stay fully engaged. Next year, this will
not be a problem, as the event will be held on a Wednesday and Thursday,
although hopefully with the sun very much in attendance!
Get in touch with your
ideas for ELA
Our events are designed to provide a place where scientists, technology
developers, lab managers and more can stay up-to-date on the latest trends in
lab automation. As such, we feel that this event is really yours and should be
shaped by you, so please do get in
touch if you have any thoughts and ideas for how we can improve ELA
We've already had significant amounts of interest in next year's event, this
time taking place in Barcelona, Spain on the 14-15 May. If you'd like to be kept up to date on
all things ELA, please sign
up to our newsletter.
Posted By: SelectBioBlogger
|Exhibition at ELA 2013|
03 Jun 2013
the most out of ELA 2013 – the value of the exhibition
With only a few weeks to go, this year’s
European Lab Automation conference is really shaping up to deliver outstanding
value for every attendee.
Thus far we’ve shared plenty of sneak previews
covering the industry issues we’ll be discussing as part of the conference
streams, so this time we thought we’d focus on the high quality of this year’s
exhibition. Below are our 5 top reasons to walk the exhibition floor and
discuss your work with the experts you’ll find there.
the options available to improve your research
With a wide range of exhibitors showcasing
many different technologies, ELA 2013 offers an excellent opportunity to chat
with all the experts about their latest innovations in lab equipment, reagents
and services. Whether you’re looking for a boost in efficiency or a totally new
way of doing things, you’ll find it on the exhibition floor. Best of all,
you’ll be able to talk in person with each supplier about your specific needs
and find the optimal solutions that are right for you and your lab.
Have a hands-on experience
It’s one thing to browse the web or leaf
through a catalogue, but quite another to actually interact with the equipment
you might like to employ in your lab. ‘How does it work?’ ‘How easy is it to
use?’ ‘Will it fit in my lab?’ ‘What are its strengths and weaknesses?’ ‘Do you
provide training? Support?’ You’ll be able to easily answer all these questions
and more, while also getting a hands-on feel for the solutions available in
your areas of research.
Effectively compare and evaluate different solutions
With a range of solutions available from
different vendors on the same show floor, you’ll be able to easily compare and
contrast the options available in a very time efficient manner, so you can
select the right supplier and/or product for your needs.
Discuss customized solutions
Your lab is unique – you have your own
goals, requirements and challenges, and sometimes ‘off the shelf’ products are
just not what you need. Fortunately, by chatting with the experts at the ELA
2013 exhibition, you could form new strategic partnerships and drive the
development of a customized solution that is optimized specifically for your
a feel for upcoming developments and innovations, before they happen
Often, our exhibitors take advantage of ELA
as the ideal place to showcase their latest new innovations. As well as
learning about these interesting new lab solutions, you can discuss the future
plans of each vendor to find out about their product development plans. Your
expert input is also valuable to the exhibitors, as it helps them to create new
solutions driven by your most pressing laboratory challenges and requirements.
ELA 2013 will take place from 6-7 June in
Hamburg, Germany. For more information visit:
There is still time to register, and best
of all its ‘2for1’ at the moment so sign up now! http://selectbiosciences.com/conferences/index.aspx?conf=ELA2013
Posted By: SelectBioBlogger
|Taking the risk out of drug discovery projects using label-free technologies - an interview with Dr Sheraz Gul|
31 May 2013
This week, we caught up with Dr Sheraz Gul, Vice President and Head of European ScreeningPort GmbH (Hamburg, Germany), to talk about the state of screening in drug discovery and, in particular, the impact of cell-based assays over the last decade.
At European ScreeningPort, Dr Gul and his team specialise in progressing small molecule drug discovery programs from the target identification stage through to lead compound selection. He manages a group responsible for developing assays to be utilised in High Throughput Screening (HTS) campaigns, as well as the validation of hit compounds - this includes determining their mechanism of action. The team have had plenty of success to date, with their work leading to the identification of multiple lead series and two development candidates.
Dr Gul will be chairing a free-to-attend symposium the day before this year's ELA (5th June) entitled: "Applying Label-free Technologies to De-risk Drug Discovery Projects" - more details can be found at the bottom of this post. As a sneak preview of what you can expect to learn about on the 5th, here's what he had to say about the evolving world of drug screening assays...
Q: What impact have cell based assays (CBAs) had on drug screening?
Dr Gul: For most drug discovery projects, it is now commonplace to have both biochemical (target based) and CBAs in place at the outset, so researchers often have to choose which one to use for each HTS campaign. This situation is in marked contrast to 5-10 years ago when the range of assays for drug discovery purposes were more limited and assay development times were considerable. This flexibility has provided researchers with more options, but this must be balanced against the complexity of choosing the correct assay for the specific needs of each project.
Q: How do your team go about making these choices?
Dr Gul: For most of the targets we explore, the assay that we utilise will depend upon a number of factors such as robustness, throughput, amenability to automation and cost. The hit compounds that we identify are subsequently evaluated in a panel of selectivity and liability assays, many of which are CBAs and we use the output to prioritise hit compounds for follow-up studies. With the significant advances in assay technologies that have been made as well as the associated reduction in reagent costs, we now tend to use CBAs more often in HTS campaigns. However, as HCS assays have a lower throughput, often involve multiple steps (e.g. washing and fixation of cells) and yield vast amounts of data, we largely use these as secondary assays on a small number of compounds.
Q: Why use CBAs for drug discovery?
Dr Gul: The major benefit of CBAs for drug discovery are their ability to provide a more physiologically relevant environment for the target being investigated. It is anticipated that the activities of hit compounds identified from HTS campaigns that make use of CBAs are more likely to translate to in vivo systems. Possibilities of multiplexing CBAs do exist and these may lead to greater insight into the poly-pharmacology of hit compounds. However, these are expensive to perform and hence are often utilised as secondary assays.
Q: What do you feel are the current challenges in the use of CBAs in drug discovery?
Dr Gul: CBAs have advantages compared to biochemical (target based) assays. However, CBAs also have their own disadvantages, so I feel that the two approaches should always be seen as complementary. For example, a significant disadvantage of CBAs is that many of the hit compounds identified from screens exhibit cytotoxicity. Therefore, suitable assays are required to confirm that the activities of the hit compounds are not false positives. This extra work requires a significant investment in time, especially when hit compounds simultaneously exhibit target-related and cytotoxic effects, which must be teased apart before we can accurately and confidently select which compounds to take forward to the next stage of development. In this case, having a panel of HTS-compatible selectivity and liability assays (biochemical and CBAs) that can be rapidly deployed to profile compounds would allow us to do this, reducing project risk and increasing the probability that the promise of each compound will also be seen in vivo.
Q: What will be required to circumvent these issues?
Dr Gul: Although significant challenges are associated with CBAs, one method that has been successful to-date is the use of phenotypic CBAs, where a cellular response is measured without any knowledge of the underlying target/s. This type of phenotypic assay can be performed using a label-free device, with the approach proving especially popular for secondary screening. It is also gaining ground in HTS.
Q: If you had to imagine your ideal CBA solution, what would it provide?
Dr Gul: Most CBAs make use of cell types that are not physiologically relevant and as a result, this may compromise the assay. In addition, for the CBAs employed in drug discovery, the full range of underlying targets that are being influenced by a compound are often unknown. This is important, as any poly-pharmacological effects could make it difficult to fully understand compound structure-activity relationships. As it stands, the ideal primary CBA would allow us to monitor the activity of the target of interest, as well as a panel of additional targets, all at the same time. The activities of hit compounds could then be confirmed in complementary biochemical (target based) assays in order to elucidate the mode of action.
Q. Where do you think CBAs will have a significant impact in the near future?
Dr Gul: There are more advanced CBAs being proposed for drug discovery, such as those using stem cells (e.g. iPS derived cells) as well new 3D cell models (rather than standard 2D culture). It will be interesting to see if these will reduce the attrition of compounds. However, I don't believe that these assays will entirely replace other types of assays, but instead will be used earlier in the drug discovery process in order to prioritise compounds for follow-up studies. Either way, it is certainly exciting times for those using CBAs in drug screening, as the data we are generating is getting ever closer to more accurately predicting the effect we'll see in vivo.
ELA 2013 is taking place from 6-7 June in Hamburg, Germany. For more information visit www.selectbiosciences.com/conferences/ELA2013 and register here: http://selectbiosciences.com/conferences/registration.aspx?pid=1669&conf=ELA2013
Dr Gul will be chairing the "Applying Label-free Technologies to De-risk Drug Discovery Projects Symposium" on the 5th June from 3pm until 6.15pm. Organized in association with Norgenta and European ScreeningPort, the event is free to attend.
You can find out more details about the program and register to attend here: http://selectbiosciences.com/conferences/symposiumsID.aspx?WID=23&conf=ELA2013
Posted By: SelectBioBlogger
|There is still time to register for ELA 2013 – take advantage of our ‘2for1’ offer now!|
29 May 2013
With ELA 2013 fast approaching on 6-7 June in Hamburg, Germany, we just wanted to remind you that there is still time to register for our event.
And remember, it’s currently ‘2for1’ on delegate registration, so sign up right now to take advantage of this generous offer.
By attending ELA 2013, you will:
1. Interact with key opinion leaders and discuss all the cutting-edge developments taking place at the forefront of drug discovery, then use this new knowledge to enhance the performance of your own labs and research. With five dedicated conference tracks we’re sure to cover every area of interest.
2. Gain full access to our exhibition and see the latest technologies in action, with over 60 vendors signed up and counting. No more guessing – get the right solution for your needs by talking with the experts and having a hands-on experience with equipment. Find out more here, including a list of the companies exhibiting.
3. Network in a cost and time-effective manner - we’ve brought all the important figures in the industry together in the same place at the same time to make this possible.
4. Build new partnerships to help you and your organisation get ahead of the pack.
4. Get to think about the bigger picture, by spending some time away from your work in an environment primed to stimulate innovative new ideas.
5. Do all of this and more across a range of important application areas including biobanking, chemistry automation, liquid handling, high-content screening, cell based assays, nano & microfluidics and next generation sequencing.
Still not convinced?
Then why not browse our recent blog posts below for a little sneak preview into the insights you can access at ELA 2013.
To register and find out more, visit: www.selectbiosciences.com/conferences/ELA2013
Posted By: SelectBioBlogger
|Optimising chemistry for drug discovery:|
23 May 2013
An interview with Alberto Bresciani...
As the head of the screening technologies unit at the IRBM Science Park in
Italy, Dr Alberto Bresciani is involved in a broad spectrum of research
services for drug discovery, organic chemistry, biomedical sciences and
biotech. In today's blog, he shares his thoughts on how to streamline the
discovery process using automated methods.
How can chemistry
automation help researchers rapidly explore compound series and focused
libraries, particularly as it relates to drug discovery?
The time required to bring a compound to the market has increased by about 30
percent in the last 10 years. Thus, the ability to make fast and accurate
decisions at early stages of the process is getting more and more demanding,
allowing suboptimal compounds to 'fail early' before they can consume precious
funds and resources. Through chemistry automation, we are looking to make the
reaction volumes as small as possible. The goal is to increase the diversity of
reactions that can be improved by miniaturisation, without introducing special
hardware or plasticware.
In your experience,
how has chemistry automation and liquid handling changed over the last five to
In regards to liquid handling, the one groundbreaking innovation that changed
the way of thinking was certainly acoustic transfer. The ability to move small
amounts of liquids without contact via a wide range of transfer options made
many processing tasks fast, easy and cheap. My lab widely uses acoustic
transfer to move test compound to assay ready pates. It allows us to save on
tips and at the same time helps to make our reactions accurate and free of
cross-contamination. We also take advantage of such technology to assemble
assay reactions where dead volumes are kept as low as possible.
Who are the key
beneficiaries of improvements in chemistry automation and liquid handling?
Early drug discovery programs greatly benefit from these sorts of advances.
There's a strong interplay between medicinal chemistry and assay sciences at
this stage. Modern technologies in synthesis and sample preparation make lead
identification and optimization much smoother than it was 10 years ago. The
resulting ability to make fast and accurate decisions impacts the quality and
number of compounds in pre-clinical development, ensuring they are all of as
high a quality as possible.
improvements do you feel will continue to help researchers optimise early
There are two factors that come into play. First is the availability of proper
synthesis strategies to scale down the size of the reactions. Second is the
need to streamline downstream processes, for example by using DMSO-based
chemistries to create an efficient two-step synthesis and assay procedure.
chemistries - find out more at ELA 2013
On their quest to quickly and effectively explore classes and sub-classes of
molecules, drug researchers have a handy technology at their disposal:
DMSO-based chemistry. But unless they're well informed about this approach -
which relies on dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) as a solvent - and they fully
understand how it can enable an efficient two-step synthesis and assay
procedure, researchers will not be able to reap the rewards.
Dr. Alberto Bresciani will seek to fill the knowledge gap by sharing his
experiences with DMSO-based chemistry at European Lab Automation 2013. His
featured conference presentation, "DMSO-Based Chemistry for Rapid
Identification of Structure Activity Relationships and Lead Optimization,"
is part of ELA's Chemistry Automation & Liquid Handling conference stream.
Hear more from Bresciani and other thought leaders at ELA 2013, taking place
from 6-7 June in Hamburg, Germany. For more information visit: www.selectbiosciences.com/conferences/ELA2013.
You can register to attend right here.
For exhibition and sponsorship opportunities, please email Aaron Woodley at firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted By: SelectBioBlogger
|The Devil's in the Data with Next-Gen Sequencing|
17 May 2013
An Interview with James Hadfield...
The advent of next-generation sequencing (NGS) has opened the door to a deeper
and more complete knowledge of human health and disease. On the frontlines of
NGS-fueled discovery is James Hadfield, manager of the Genomics core facility
at Cancer Research UK in Cambridge.
"Advances in NGS have allowed my lab to move from primarily an array
facility in 2007 to a mini-genome institute today," Hadfield said.
Using Illumina sequencing instruments such as the HiSeq and MiSeq. Hadfield's
lab helps researchers better understand the cancer genome, unravel the genetic
causes of cancer and develop new methods for diagnosis and treatment.
Hadfield's work in the industry has given him a unique perspective on the
challenges and opportunities that exist in genomic research today - a
perspective that he freely shares on his blog CoreGenomics.
In advance of Hadfield's upcoming talk on cancer genomics at European
Lab Automation 2013, he took time to share some of his interesting
insights with SELECTBIO.
You say that one of the
biggest areas for advancement within NGS, besides sample prep, is
bioinformatics. Can you explain how the "data deluge" is affecting
Data analysis is tough, but it looks to be a solvable problem. Faster
algorithms allow us to process data as quickly as it comes off the sequencing
machines and better secondary analysis tools should reduce the false positives
and negatives, allowing us to find biologically meaningful variations more
rapidly. Ultimately, we still have a lot of validation to do. Gathering samples
may also be more of a challenge as we start to process them so quickly - for example,
recruiting enough patients to make studies biologically insightful can be a
Looking ahead, how do
you see the suite of NGS applications changing or expanding?
Currently, the main applications of automated NGS workflows include RNA-seq,
exomes, genomes and ChIP-seq. In the future, we'll see more amplicons and even
more exomes, and definitely more combined analysis projects - such as CNV, ChIP
and RNA-seq - all performed on the same sample.
Your lab has changed
drastically over the last five or six years as NGS has taken the genomic
research world by storm. Do you expect that technologies such as microarrays
and qPCR will eventually be rendered obsolete by NGS?
Hadfield: No, not qPCR, although new genotyping-by-sequencing methods do appear
to be hitting SNP-genotyping, and I expect that gene expression may be
similarly affected. However, for gene expression studies, qPCR is still an
important technology as it offers greater sensitivity, and NGS does not offer
melt-curve analysis at this point. As for microarrays…they may well already be
a dead technology, they just don't know it yet!
Hear more from Hadfield and other key thought leaders at ELA 2013, taking place
from 6-7 June in Hamburg, Germany. For more information visit: www.selectbiosciences.com/conferences/ELA2013.
You can register to attend right here.
For exhibition and sponsorship opportunities, please email Aaron Woodley at email@example.com
Posted By: SelectBioBlogger
|Finding Solutions to Complex Fluidics Problems: An Interview with Dr. Djamel Lakehal|
10 May 2013
The field of microfluidics may
not have changed a whole lot in the last five to 10 years, but the problems
that it solves have become far more complicated, requiring more refined
research using an approach known as computational microfluidics dynamics.
That's according to Dr. Djamel Lakehal, CEO of ASCOMP GmbH, a Swiss technology
development company that specializes in the simulation of industrial fluid
dynamics and heat and mass transfer.
Djamel helps companies in a range of industries - from energy to medical
diagnostics - gain a competitive advantage by using innovative computer-based
simulation tools that refine the design of their fluid systems.
He'll be presenting at European Lab Automation 2013, where he'll report on
progress in predicting small-scale single- and multi-phase microfluidics flows
using the computational multi-fluid flow dynamics (CMFD) software TransAT
developed at ASCOMP Switzerland and USA.
CMFD sounds complex, and it is. But it's also central to advances in emerging
technologies such as biological reactors, microreactors, biochannel arrays and
lab-on-a-chip devices. Djamel explains in his recent research
paper, which was published in the international peer-reviewed journal
Microfluidics and Nanofluidics.
The paper will be the focus of Lakehal's presentation.
In a recent interview, we learned Dr. Lakehal's thoughts on what's ahead for
microfluidics. He laments that research in the field is moving faster than
business-side innovation, and notes that biomedical segments stand to see the
biggest impact in the near future thanks to applications in nanofluidics and
You can hear directly from Lakehal and other thought leaders at ELA 2013,
taking place from 6-7 June in Hamburg, Germany. For more information visit: www.selectbiosciences.com/conferences/ELA2013.
You can register to
For exhibition enquiries please contact me using the details below.
Aaron Woodley - Sales
& Marketing Manager.
Posted By: SelectBioBlogger
|NGS: Beyond the bottlenecks|
02 May 2013
An interview with Dr Robin Coope...
With lowering costs and rising throughput, the impact of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) on everything from fundamental academic research through to clinical diagnosis continues to grow. In this week's blog, we asked Dr Robin Coope, Group Leader for Instrumentation at the British Columbia Cancer Agency's Genome Sciences Centre (GSC) in Canada, for his thoughts on the future of NGS.
As part of his work at the GSC, Dr Coope is tasked with developing rapid, high throughput sequencing pipelines for challenging molecules, particularly miRNA and mRNA, as well as for clinical sequencing. As such, his team works at the cutting edge of NGS workflow optimization.
Boosting NGS throughput
As a rapidly developing technology, NGS bottlenecks frequently change, with service providers constantly needing to innovate to keep their pipelines working at maximum throughput.
"Since we've been working to optimise NGS, we've encountered many challenges and have developed several novel solutions to circumvent key pipeline bottlenecks," Dr Coope said. "We are continually adding new instrumentation to our workflow, which we have either purchased or designed ourselves from scratch, including liquid handling robots, of which we currently own eight from three different manufacturers, and cutting edge QC machines."
"The single biggest change to NGS workflows probably came in 2011 when Illumina introduced its 'Version 3 Chemistry.' This raised HiSeq output from 200Gb to 600Gb, and was actually the first time in the history of sequencing where the key limitation became sample preparation rather than the sequencing reaction itself, putting pressure on library construction to become higher throughput. In addition to more plate based library construction, we have employed a lot more sample pooling to make use of the capacity, which has subsequently required innovative ways to index and QC our samples."
More recently the challenge has been to build clinical capacity for different pipelines, some of which are less time sensitive, such as hereditary screening, and some of which are very time sensitive. This challenges us to create efficient pipelines at different scales.
Chief amongst the challenges faced at the GSC when pooling samples has been variation. "With clinical samples, each plate in a well is essentially a separate experiment, while smaller volumes per well can exacerbate dispensing errors and increase data variability," said Dr Coope.
"Combine this with the need to pool samples to boost throughput and the workflow quickly gets very complex. We're finding that, perhaps now more than ever, it is essential to accurately track sample history through LIMS, while also monitoring sample quality throughout the process to identify potential sources of error."
Data, data everywhere...
Data analysis is another bottleneck widely discussed by experts in the field. As NGS instruments and pipelines have become more advanced, the amount of data being generated has grown exponentially, putting a significant strain on computing hardware.
The experiences of Dr Coope and his team reflect this general trend: "It is probably the key bottleneck at this moment in time and will likely be a significant area of spending in the next year or two," he said. However, Dr Coope suggests that additional investment may ultimately solve this problem, while circumventing challenges in sample preparation is likely to require more imaginative solutions.
"To some extent, analysis bandwidth can be increased by investing in more of the same equipment, rather than needing an entirely novel approach," he said. "However, high throughput library construction is a constantly moving target, needing a lot of creativity and coordinated action across different teams in order to roll out effective process improvements without experiencing sample batch effects."
"In our lab, there is definitely further scope for the automation of sample processing to improve our pipelines, by increasing throughput and minimising variation. However, in a facility which has specialized in more specialized challenging sample types, the deployment of more and more automation into traditionally manual pipelines is a challenging philosophical change."
Dr Coope will be discussing NGS workflow optimisation at ELA 2013 as part of his talk, "Automation Challenges in Library Construction for Next Generation DNA Sequencing." Click here to register and attend.
For exhibitor enquiries, please email Aaron Woodley firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted By: SelectBioBlogger
|Top Tips for your stay in Hamburg |
29 Apr 2013
Although your schedule will be full and your stay brief, it would be a pity if you did not get to sample just a few Hamburg flavours. After all, the city has so much to offer. Maybe you need some restaurant recommendations for an important client/prospect meet, or just require some tips on the tried and tested bars, restaurants and hotels in the area? Read more to get a snapshot of the city for your visit……
Just a bit about the town
Steeped in Maritime history, Hamburg is the second busiest port in Europe and Germany’s second largest city. Surrounded by water, Hamburg is situated on the River Elbe and is positioned 100km from the North Sea. This is apparent when looking at the structure, layout and vibe of the city. In fact, the lively streets of the red light Reeperbahn district, carries the spirit from its early maritime days. Overflowing with bars, restaurants and many interesting characters, the Reeperbahn has a lot to offer.
Eating & drinking
Closer to home around the botanical gardens that surround the Radisson Blu hotel and conference centre, are two rather funky establishments that might take your fancy for a night cap – the Turmbar and the Sands Bar. Serving great cocktails in a relaxed park location, the latter has been frequently located by the ELA conference crowd over recent years.
The Radisson itself houses a great restaurant and bar, but if you want to taste different local fare then we recommend trying out some of the other dining recommendations below:
• Fleetschloesschen is described as one of the cutest cafes ever. It is positioned right on the Speicherstadt canal and has great views within a very quaint picturesque setting.
• Das Weisse Haus is set in a former fisherman’s cottage and is listed as one of Hamburg’s most popular restaurants. Delicacies include salmon poached sous vide over roasted beets with beurre blanc or soufflé au chocolate with homemade coffee ice cream.
• Bullerei is run by celebrity cook, Tim Maelzer, in a historic cattle hall, since transformed into a cool dining space. The meat-centric menu includes juicy pork ribs, steaks, Iberico ham, and hamburgers.
• Vienna is a German-Austrian restaurant residing in a peaceful residential street, offering a luscious garden which surrounds its terrace. The restaurant is renowned for its authentic schnitzels, venison and fish.
• Just a little quirky, the Old Commercial Room has great German character and spirit and was founded in the 17th century. It has been recommended as the best place for northern German cuisine and fish dishes, such as Hamburg’s signature dish Labskaus (corned beef, potatoes, onions, and gherkin).
• Rive is apparently the best place to visit for the seafood lovers amongst us. Located near the ferry terminal, the restaurant offers Michelin-starred cuisine and spectacular views of Hamburg’s harbour.
How to get to Hamburg
The easiest way to get to Hamburg is via air and there are number of low cost airlines that service this route. To search for flights, please feel free to check the following links for the best cost-effective options Skyscanner, Flightchecker, Kayak.
How to get about
Travelling around the city is easy, with cabs readily available around the exhibition centre and adjacent train station. Taxis can be found at the Hauptbahnhof, Dammtor and Altona, and at some larger S-Bahn and U-Bahn stations. You can book one by calling 441 011 or 666 666. To find out more about different local transport options, such as the HVV (194 49; www.hvv.de) which operates buses, ferries, the U-Bahn and the S-Bahn, visit the Lonely Planet Guide.
Where to stay
The exhibition will be held in the CCH - Congress Center Hamburg. The Radisson Blu, one of the finest hotels in Hamburg is conveniently situated adjacent to the exhibition and conference centre. The 27-storey hotel features lavish rooms and unsurpassed amenities and services. Please contact the hotel directly to make a reservation: www.radissonblu.com/hotel-hamburg
With so much to offer, what are you waiting for? Sign up for ELA 2013 now!
Posted By: SelectBioBlogger
|Standards Make High-Content Screening Data More Powerful.....An interview with Dr Stephan Schürer|
24 Apr 2013
Small-molecule biological assays have been generating mountains of valuable data in recent years. These large-scale data sets, compiled by publicly funded centers and available to researchers, can be used to foster the development of new drug candidates and other pharmaceutical advancements.
However, the lack of established standards to describe and annotate biological assays is somewhat limiting the data’s true value. Without such standards, researchers have a more difficult job comparing their data sets to previous results generated at public screening centers.
That dilemma is in the crosshairs of the BioAssay Ontology (BAO) Project, led by a team at the University of Miami’s Center for Computational Sciences. The project’s goal is to facilitate large-scale analyses of diverse bioassay data sets, integrate this data with other life science databases, and ultimately enable biomedical knowledge discovery, explains principal investigator Stephan Schürer, PhD.
“We developed BioAssay Ontology to enable standardized description, integration and meta-analysis of various high throughput assay and screening results,” he said. “Our research is focused on knowledge-based approaches, semantic integration, and knowledge formalization using dedicated and specific ontologies.”
Schürer said a flexible approach for data integration is essential to keep pace with today’s technology, as well as to increase the data’s value to the chemical biology, screening and cheminformatics communities.
“This requires the development and adoption of standards and industry-wide data formats,” he said.
Developing the LIFE system, Schürer’s team is adopting the same approach to organize and describe data generated in the Library of Integrated Network-based Cellular Signatures (LINCS) Program, a recent large-scale systems biology data production and analysis effort funded by the National Institutes of Health.
“Leveraging the ontology, we are developing a semantic model and a software system to describe and integrate LINCS data,” Schürer said. “Our approach facilitates the linking and classification of diverse entities — including small molecules, cellular model systems, diseases, and gene and protein kinase targets based on the underlying cellular profiling results.”
Schürer will be presenting some of these ideas and results at ELA 2013 as part of the Drug Discovery Automation track. The conference takes place from 6-7 June in Hamburg, Germany. For more information visit: www.selectbiosciences.com/conferences/ELA2013.
You can register to attend at SelecBiosciences.com.
For exhibitor enquiries, please email Aaron Woodley email@example.com
Posted By: SelectBioBlogger
|Harnessing the Great Promise of Microfluidics - an interview with Holger Becker|
16 Apr 2013
The science of microfluidics has progressed tremendously in the past decade, serving as the basis for laboratory devices and systems with applications in a range of life science disciplines, from drug discovery and diagnostics to environmental monitoring.
Using techniques such as dielectrophoresis for cell assembly, particle sorting by Dean forces or magnetic bead transport through microstructures, microfluidics devices can essentially shrink the biological and chemical laboratory — bringing affordable lab-on-a-chip systems into daily laboratory life.
But there is still much progress to be made in this burgeoning field, explains Holger Becker, Chief Scientific Officer of Microfluidic ChipShop GmbH. Becker will be leading a training course at ELA 2013 to look at various applications of microfluidics, as well as commercialization strategies for new approaches.
“Microfluidics has greatly developed from a technology looking for a problem to a real application problem-solving tool,” Becker said. “We now have the ability to develop and manufacture rather complex, highly integrated microfluidic devices that can fulfill many of the early promises of microfluidics.”
In order for the technology to make the greatest possible scientific impact, Becker noted that there are some barriers to overcome. “I see a big challenge in transitioning much of the excellent academic work completed thus far into real-world applications,” Becker said. “Furthermore, many microfluidics-based products are in competition with existing solutions, so the actual cost of a device or procedure is critical, yet often not realised in the academic world.”
However, Becker said he’s confident that the technology will become ubiquitous in the life sciences in a few years, as the scientific community learns more about the benefits of microfuidics. He sees the biggest near-term impact in fields like molecular diagnostics, cell biology and next-generation sequencing.
“These devices will help make processes faster and more efficient, and will extend the range of institutions having access to instrumentation offering cutting-edge performance.”
ELA 2013 will take place from 6-7 June in Hamburg, Germany. For more information visit: www.selectbiosciences.com/conferences/ELA2013.
You can register to attend right here
For exhibitor enquiries, please email Aaron Woodley at firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted By: SelectBioBlogger
|The ethics around biobanking – an interview with Zubin Master|
08 Apr 2013
This week’s blog focusses on the ethical issues surrounding biobanking, based on a recent interview we conducted with Zubin Master. Dr Master, Assistant Professor at the Alden March Bioethics Institute of Albany Medical College, will be discussing this topic in detail at ELA 2013 as part of his presentation, “Biobanks: Consent, Consensus & Public Trust.”
Current biobanking issues
Dr Master lectures on bioethics and conducts research in several areas, including the ethical formation, growth and management of biobanks. He believes that the current procedures for obtaining consent from participants when obtaining samples for biobank storage and research use needs to be revisited. “For logistical reasons, most biobanks adopt a broad or blanket approach to informed consent, yet some participants are less comfortable sharing samples for research they view as ‘contentious,’” Dr Master explained.
“A blanket consent model makes sense for biobanks because obtaining specific consent is extremely resource intensive. However, public perception studies have shown that some people want more control over exactly what research their samples are used for, as well as which organisations they share with. For example, many tend to be less concerned when samples are used for research into severe medical illnesses, but are less willing to donate samples for research they morally oppose.” Dr Master continued, “clearly, in these cases the blanket approach does not provide the level of consent transparency and control required by some study participants.”
Another issue around biobanking is the maintenance of privacy. “Biobanking was generally believed to be of little harm to participants if adequate privacy measures are in place,” said Dr Master, “but this thinking has recently been challenged following the discovery that it is sometimes possible to identify participants from the data stored in biobanking databases.”
From a more holistic viewpoint, the current financial climate has led some to question the large investment being placed in biobanking at a time when research dollars are scarce and other areas of research are suffering a reduction in financial support. Thus the question becomes, “how much of this should be pursued and at what cost?”
Building a better future for biobanking ethics
Consideration of these issues comes at a pertinent time. According to Dr Master, “in the past decade, there have been major investments in biobanking at the national level. The hype surrounding biobanking research has also heightened over this time period, raising new questions and concerns in the minds of the public.” Dr Master continued, “This has also helped to inflate public expectations. If these are not effectively met, public trust and support for biobanking might wane.”
“Some scholars have also predicted that, as the public becomes more aware of biobanking issues, they might desire greater control of their samples and may not be willing to donate them so freely. This will drastically impact biobanking and may bias future research, as the samples housed in biobanks may not be truly representative of the population at large.”
Having said this, Dr Master is hopeful of finding a solution: “I am unsure if we can get an ideal situation that makes everyone happy, but I feel it can be done if we strive to put systems in place that minimise risks and maximise benefits, while aiming not to overburden biobankers with trivial policy or regulatory hurdles. Lastly, everything we do should look to form an open and realistic partnership between participants and biobankers, helping to maintain and enhance public trust in what we are all trying to achieve – more efficient and accurate research that improves human health and the quality of life.”
Dr Master will present his solution to improving biobank consent at ELA 2013: “I have developed a theoretical proposal that is simple to use and minimises the risks for biobanks and patients. Put simplistically, the model uses exclusion clauses to improve transparency when obtaining consent. This system is designed to assist biobanks created for a specific research topic in mind, rather than large, multifactorial biobanks utilised by a wide range of studies.”
To find out more, sign up for ELA 2013 and visit Dr Master’s talk, due to be held on Friday 7th June as part of the ‘Biobanking: Preparation, Storage & Analysis’ conference track.
For exhibitor enquiries, please email Aaron Woodley email@example.com
Posted By: SelectBioBlogger
|Trends at the forefront of liquid handling and lab automation |
02 Apr 2013
This week we caught
up with Joe Liscouski, Executive Director at the Institute for Laboratory
Automation (ILA) in MA, USA, to find out more about how the use of liquid
handling has evolved over the last decade and to gain some insight into what we
can expect next.
As well as managing
the ILA, Mr Liscouski’s role is to develop new ideas for leveraging lab
automation in ways that will effectively increase lab accuracy and productivity.
Over the last decade he has seen many changes in automated liquid handling, but
cites several key factors as having driven us to where we are now.
“In terms of life science assays, the adoption
of the microplate as the standard format for testing has been very important,
as it has enabled the development of compatible equipment from several vendors
and a common approach to working with samples, as has the move towards
standardised sample holders,” Liscouski said. “General chemistry hasn't
progressed this far.”
this has been a shift in ethos, away from finding ways to adapt existing robots
to work with lab equipment and towards developing purpose-built commercial
systems that are specifically engineered to meet the needs of laboratory
users.” Liscouski continued: “Both vendors and users have benefited from this
change. Users are now provided with equipment that is optimised for their
workflow, which avoids them having to heavily customise their systems to meet
their unique needs. Subsequently, vendors have benefited from easier
market acceptance of their products.”
are likely to make it even simpler to set up, manage and run custom lab
automation solutions, with improvements in ease-of-implementation, support and
system validation. As Liscouski puts it, “lab automation systems should let
users focus all their energy and resources on science, rather than
still believes that one of the major challenges is a need to better educate
system users: “People need to be taught how to use their equipment effectively,
as well as how to design and plan experimental work that effectively takes
advantage of their set-ups”. He continued: “More standardized methods for
applications that can be implemented out-of-the-box, instead of being built
from scratch by users, will certainly make this easier and facilitate knowledge
transfer between labs. Well defined standards for systems integration and data
exchange would also make it easier for users to implement and move between
“We feel that industry
specific approaches won't be successful in navigating these hurdles, and that a
cross-industry focus to improving lab hardware integration would be beneficial.
Labs are more alike than they are different, but focussing too narrowly on a
specific subset of applications prevents people from appreciating and adapting
technologies used elsewhere. The opportunities are there, but it will require
lab staff to understand a systems approach to their workflow, rather than
limiting their thinking to a specific industry or discipline.”
Joe Liscouski will be
discussing all this and more as part of his Keynote Presentation at ELA 2013,
entitled “Future Directions in Lab Automation Technologies.”
organisation needs to be working at the cutting edge when it comes to lab
efficiency, effectiveness and productivity. Sign up for ELA 2013 today to attend and hear the latest insights from all the
industry’s key thought leaders.
ELA 2013 will take
place from 6-7 June in Hamburg, Germany. More information can be found at:
Posted By: SelectBioBlogger
|The future of HCA using primary cells and 3D culture |
22 Mar 2013
An interview with Dr Anthony Davies, Director
of the High Content Research Facility at INCHSA, Trinity College, Dublin
This week’s ELA blog discusses the impact of process optimisation on cell based assays, with particular reference to
High Content Analysis (HCA). To give us the inside scoop, we chatted with Dr Anthony Davies, Director of the
High Content Research Facility at the Irish National Center for High Content
Screening and Analysis (INCHSA) at Trinity College, Dublin, about the impact
automation has had on the workflow at INCHSA. Dr Davies will also be sharing
his expertise at ELA 2013 as the Keynote Speaker of the ‘3D and Complex Cell
Based Models for HCA stream’ taking place on Thursday 6th June.
Having spent the last
decade researching and developing miniaturised cell based assays and cellular
arrays for use with high throughput HCS, Dr Davies has seen a lot of changes in
how workflows have evolved: “In the last few years, HCA in our unit has
migrated away from high volume, simple experiments which typically yield small
amounts of data per assay, towards smaller numbers of experiments utilising
advanced cell based models, as these yield much larger amounts of biologically
relevant data per assay. This makes the findings of our studies more physiologically
and clinically relevant.”
Obtaining such data is
a key goal for Dr Davies and his team. “The single most important factor we
should all now be focusing on is the biological relevance of the cell based
assays we use in the lab,” Davies said. “This means using primary cells where possible,
combined with improved cell culture techniques such as 3D culture. In this way,
when screening for bioactive molecules we can hope to better mimic the natural
environment of the human body, basing our analysis on cells that have actually
been isolated from the tissue of interest.”
This is pertinent
advice given that many immortalised cell lines do not accurately reflect the
biology of ‘normal’ human cells. To emphasise this, a recent research paper
published in G3 suggesting that HeLa cells, currently the most widely used
model cell line in the lab, harbour many drastic genetic abnormalities, described
by the authors as the result of ‘catastrophic chromosome shattering’
However, working with primary
cells and new culture techniques is not without its challenges. Firstly, obtaining
pure cultures of primary cells in sufficient numbers can be difficult to
achieve using biopsies, while commercial solutions can be expensive. This is
particularly true when the cells are to be used for HCA, as there must be
enough cells available to run thousands of assays in one screen. Therefore, it
is essential that each individual assay uses as few cells as possible, while
still producing biologically reliable results. Secondly, new culture
techniques, such as a move from 2D to 3D, require the development of novel
automated workflows and analysis methods in order to render them amenable to
high throughput screening.
Research at INCHSA is
helping to circumvent these issues via assay miniaturisation. “We are
developing new technologies and workflows designed to reduce assay sizes down
to nanoliter volumes, allowing us to perform large scale assays at low cost, in
some cases up to 1000 times cheaper than other methods” Davies said. He
continued, “The technology is based on a microplate system housed in a
bioreactor, which is designed to provide us with careful control over the
environment, minimising evaporation and ensuring the cells stay healthy and
“The automated aspects
of these new workflows are helping to increase throughput and facilitate
multiplexing, all of which means we can get lots of reproducible data using as
few primary cells as possible. Ultimately, we’re looking to develop a solution
that is simple-to-use, efficient and flexible, with better integration of image
analysis and informatics tools.”
development is not the only factor driving an improvement in HCA. Dr Davies
also cited the importance of obtaining a “consensus amongst the scientists
working in the field to develop standardised working practices." He said:
“There is great potential for HCA using 3D cultures to provide deep insight
into the formation, development and metastasis of different cancers. Currently,
everyone in the field is working hard to ensure the technology and
methodologies required are being developed fast enough to meet up with the
demands of the developed world, where cancer is still a major killer.”
To learn more about
the work being done by the team at Trinity College, visit Dr Davies’ talk at
ELA 2013, entitled “The Deployment and Evaluation of Advanced 3D Technologies
for High Content and High Throughput Screening.” Click here to register to attend ELA
The event will take place from 6-7 June in Hamburg, Germany. For more
information visit: www.eurolabautomation.com
For exhibitor enquiries,
please email Aaron Woodley at firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Landry JJM et al (2013), The Genomic and
Transcriptomic Landscape of a HeLa Cell Line, Advanced online publication in G3: Genes, Genomes and Genetics, DOI: 10.1534/g3.113.005777v
Posted By: SelectBioBlogger
|Optimising NGS workflows – an interview with Dr Mike Quail, Team Leader at the Sanger Institute |
13 Mar 2013
At this year’s ELA meeting in Hamburg we’re dedicating one conference track exclusively to the fast moving area of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS), where our speakers will discuss how advances in NGS technology are improving our understanding of how the genome and epigenome impact on the diagnosis, management and treatment of disease.
This week’s blog features an interview with one of the NGS track Keynote Speakers at ELA 2013, Dr Mike Quail, Team Leader of the Sequencing R&D Group at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Hinxton, Cambridge. Dr Quail was able to give us some insight into the current advances being made in NGS, as well as some of the challenges still facing the optimisation of NGS pipelines.
The rapid pace of NGS development
According to Dr Quail, the rapid improvements in NGS technology continue unabated: “We’re certainly not seeing any decrease in interest for NGS, and our research team is busier than ever working on improvements to the methodology. In particular, enhancements in process automation are having an impact on a diverse range of NGS applications, from target enrichment and whole genome sequencing, to chip and RNA seq.”
However, there is still plenty of scope for improving NGS: “Although the technique has evolved very quickly and is already a key approach in many labs, there are still significant challenges and opportunities to further improve NGS,” said Dr Quail.
“Our group is primarily interested in those process elements that lie upstream, such as in sample collection, DNA extraction and large-scale, inexpensive library prep. At the other end of the pipeline, data analysis and storage continue to put a strain on bioinformatics teams and computer hardware.”
Dealing with the data
For example, the often-cited ‘NGS data deluge’ is certainly capable of causing a considerable headache for NGS researchers, a problem that will only worsen as more labs adopt the approach and further data is generated.
According to Dr Quail, “the large amounts of data produced by NGS runs cannot always be analysed quickly enough to inform current work, slowing down the pipeline, or meaning that follow on experiments are not as accurately planned as they might be.”
He also suggests that “data sharing and archiving can also be challenging, as current networking infrastructure and hardware is still catching up with the needs NGS researchers, who need to move terabytes of data around on a daily basis. The backup of such information is still also prohibitively expensive.”
NGS vs other approaches
Regardless of the technical hurdles that still must be overcome, Dr Quail believes that NGS will continue to have a growing role in genetic analysis: “Upstream NGS processing will benefit in the future from improvements such as greater automation, lower reagent usage and improved library creation. This will lead to higher sample throughput and greater data accuracy at lower cost, meaning NGS could eventually render some previous approaches such as microarrays obsolete. However, it is very difficult to predict when this might happen.”
“For example, qPCR is unlikely to ever become obsolete, as it will always be quicker and more flexible, especially for small numbers of samples. Also, while NGS has a greater dynamic range than microarrays, this has not prevented microarrays from remaining a popular method of genetic analysis. These are just a few of the reasons why we’ll be interested to see how the data analysis challenges of NGS impacts on buying decisions when it comes to choosing a genetic analysis approach – for some research questions it may be much simpler to just use microarrays or qPCR.”
Dr Quail will be speaking at ELA 2013 about the new NGS applications being developed at the Sanger Institute, as well as some of improvements his team are making to sequencing protocols. For more information on the NGS track at ELA 2013, view the current agenda here.
More information on ELA 2013
ELA 2013 will take place from 6-7 June in Hamburg, Germany. For more information visit our website
Posted By: SelectBioBlogger
|5 Reasons why you can't afford to miss ELA 2013|
11 Mar 2013
1. Hear the thoughts of key opinion leaders across a range of application areas
We understand that the best people to provide insight into the current developments,
challenges and opportunities surrounding laboratory automation are those that have
been working at the cutting edge of the industry for many years. That’s why they
will all be presenting at ELA 2013. For example, Joe Liscouski, Executive Director
of the Institute for Laboratory Automation, will be discussing future directions
in lab automation technologies and asking the question: “Where can we go and what
do we need to get there?” As he recently shared with us, it is his current belief
that “laboratory technology development is progressing faster than the market can
absorb and make use of it.” Perhaps you agree, perhaps you don’t. Either way, you’ll
have a chance to be part of the conversation at ELA 2013. Other keynote speakers
at ELA 2013 include Greg Wendel, Head of the Sample Management Group at Novartis,
and Anthony Davies, of the High Content Research Facility at the National Center
for High Content Screening and Analysis. For a full list, see here . www.eurolabautomation.com
2. Gain key insights across a range of application areas
To meet a wide range of needs, we’ve spread the conference content over five streams,
each focused on different application areas. These include: • Biobanking • Chemistry
automation & liquid handling • Drug discovery automation using high-content screening
& cell based assays • Nano & microfluidics • Next generation sequencing. We’re confident
that you’ll find something to interest and enthuse you.
3. Attend valuable on-site training courses
As well as the main conference streams, we also run a number of satellite symposia,
training courses and workshops that allow you to improve your knowledge in a number
of key application areas. For example, this year we’ll be offering an ‘Introduction
to Laboratory Automation Informatics Systems’ and insight into the ‘Applications
of Microfluidic Devices in Bioanalysis.’ We’ll also be hosting a course discussing
how to take a microfluidic solution from concept to product.
4. See the latest technologies in action
While the conference streams will give you a chance to hear what key opinion leaders
have to say at ELA 2013, the exhibition will allow you to see the latest technologies
in action and provide an opportunity for you to talk to the experts that developed
them. This will help find the tools and tech you need to boost the efficiency of
5. Obtain and maintain key networking contacts
It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Ok, maybe that’s not as true in the life
science sector as it may be in other industries, but expanding your personal network
is always a good idea. ELA 2013 provides an excellent opportunity to form new allegiances,
set up collaborations and be a part of shaping the future of life science research
using laboratory automation.
For more information visit our website
Click here to register to attend.
Posted By: SelectBioBlogger
|Welcome to the new ELA blog!|
28 Feb 2013
to the new ELA blog!
In the run up to European Lab Automation
2013, we’ll be sharing some interesting news and insights around the event here
on our new blog. These will include:
Pre-show market and application insights from some of
the speakers at this year’s event
A sneak preview of some of the
new developments you’ll see at ELA 2013
Tips and tricks for staying in
Hamburg (hotels, restaurants, sights etc)
Updates, pictures and videos
from the SELECTBIO team on preparations ahead of the event
Details of new speakers,
symposia and workshops, the moment they're added to the agenda
We’d be delighted if you’d like to comment
on some of our blog posts, adding your own thoughts and generally become a
valued part of the conversation!
The 3rd annual ELA Tradeshow and Congress
will be held at the Congress Centre Hamburg (CCH), Germany, 6-7 June.
Continuing on its already established theme, delegates will have the option of
attending five different parallel conferences, each of which includes
internationally renowned keynote speakers, research presentations and
The show will also add extra value for
attendees with satellite Symposia, Training Courses and Workshops.
The five conferences that make up ELA 2013
Chemistry Automation &
Drug Discovery Automation:
High-content Screening & Cell Based Assays
Nano & Microfluidics
Storage & Analysis
These conference streams will be supported
by leading solution providers who will showcase the latest in automated
instruments and workflows in the exhibition hall. Together, the vendor
exhibition and scientific presentations offer an unmatched opportunity to
encourage technological discussions and scientific collaboration.
CLICK HERE for more Information, Exhibition Opportunities or to Register
Posted By: SelectBioBlogger