Article

Labor Berlin integrates the right technology to continue to build their molecular diagnostics portfolio

LDT Berlin
Founded in 2011, Labor Berlin is the joint venture of two of the most prominent public health service providers in western Germany: Charité and Vivantes. Today, Labor Berlin is Europe’s largest clinical laboratory, running 12 facilities with more than 400 employees.
Key challenge

 

The union of these big players meant providing diagnostics for approximately 9,000 in-house patients per day and more than 800,000 out-patients per year. Everything but a small feat.

 

In fact, having to keep up with such a steep increase in throughput, while still maintaining the flexibility and efficiency they were known for, proved to be their greatest challenge.

 

We spoke to Dr. Anke Edelmann, to find out how the right instrumentation and solutions enabled them to overcome this challenge and expand their testing portfolio exponentially. Within the field of molecular biology, Labor Berlin focuses on testing for virology, microbiology, hematology and oncology. 

 

What does a typical day in your lab look like?

Our lab operates from 7am – 6pm and processes around 500 samples per day. These consist of both routine tests as well as Lab Developed Testing Solutions (LDT). After a day of testing, all the results are fed into the LIS (lab information system), which ensures that all our data is consolidated and securely stored. After that is done, validation of data is completed.

 

How big of a role does the instrumentation you use play in the success of your lab’s processes?

The molecular biology technology we use is key to our success. A lab’s need for technology depends on the size of the lab and the throughput they’re dealing with. The more the lab’s throughput increases, the bigger the need for technology that enables you to standardize and automate processes. Our lab experienced this first-hand.

Company Quick Facts

 

Labor Berlin  has 12 facilities and 400 employees. Provides diagnostics for 9,000 in-house patients per day and 800,000 out-patients per year  

Key Challenge

 

Dramatic growth while maintaining flexibility

 

The Solution

 

Adding Roche solutions to their existing testing environment for a standardized and automated workflow

The Solution 

 

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