It sounds like your lab has grown quickly in the past few years. How did the right molecular biology technology enable you to expand your capacity?
In 2007, before the unification of Charité and Vivantes, our lab was using Roche’s LightCycler® 2.0 for LDT solutions and the COBAS® AmpliPrep/COBAS® TaqMan® system for HIV testing. We found the instrumentation to be adequate for what we needed. But with the establishment of Labor Berlin, we naturally saw a dramatic increase in throughput requirements. This also meant that the need to automate and standardize became just as important. That’s why we decided to add the MagNA Pure 96 for automated extraction in 2012.
In 2013, our need for increased throughput continued to grow. The LightCycler® 2.0 was incredibly flexible and could process 32 samples fast and accurately. But we still needed higher throughput on the testing side. That’s why we chose to bring the LightCycler® 480 on board to further increase our throughput in LDT solutions. Not only is it designed to handle highthroughput testing, but it also enabled us to establish a more automated workflow.
Did the increase in throughput mean that you had to replace your existing instrumentation?
No, not at all. That’s what makes Roche solutions so great to work with. They have been designed to work together and build on your existing workflow. As a result, labs with individual needs are able to create an optimized workflow that is unique to their requirements. In our case, Roche helped us to connect three different instruments – the Hamilton STARlet, the MagNA Pure 96 and the LightCycler® 480. These instruments, working together, not only helped reduce the possibility of mixing up of samples, but ensured true positive and true negative results. In addition, it also assisted in automating primary sample handling.
How would you say your lab environment has changed since implementing the above-mentioned workflow?
We have found that qPCR’s sensitivity has increased dramatically and the closed systems helps in reducing contamination. The transfer from NAP to PCR is quick and specific, which hugely limits sample mix up. Our workflow has been streamlined by the fact that working lists generated from the Hamilton STARlet can be used in the MagNA Pure 96 and the LightCycler® 480 – that way we can be sure that the sample and the test results match.
How does this help you to expand your testing portfolio and equip your lab for the future?
When we run standard IVD tests we can rely on consistency and accuracy that goes together with extensive validation that has already been done. This works especially well with high-throughput testing. However, in order to stay flexible and agile enough to react to new emerging pathogens, thus differentiating our testing portfolio, we need to expand our lab developed testing environment too.
LDT solutions require optimization, testing of new assays with samples and lots of documentation; not to mention rigorous validation. To ensure that this process runs as efficiently as possible, we need to use instrumentation that streamlines, standardizes and automates the testing process.
And that is exactly where Roche solutions have become invaluable to us