Research

Bioprocessing

STARlett

The Bioprocessing Unit of the ACRB supports a growing number of investigators via three initiatives: 1) blood fractionation, 2) nucleic acid extraction and 3) tissue microarray (TMA) production. Hamilton STARlet and STAR automated liquid handling systems are capable of executing multiple automated laboratory methodologies, including nucleic acid extraction and blood fractionation, while vastly improving processing efficiency, biospecimen quality and reducing costs. Most importantly, this platform enables the ACRB to provide world-leading technology for collaborators to expand their research ideas into previously inaccessible realms of possibility.

Blood Fractionation: The Robots process 3000 blood samples per year for the ACRB biobanking unit, using standardized methods. In addition there is a growing number of study-specific follow-up samples collected for our various collaborators. With a capacity for over 1200 blood donations per month, the instruments precisely fractionates the maximum volume of aliquots based on the programmed targets of blood samples into serum, plasma, buffy coat and red blood cells into multiple 2D matrix bar coded storage cryovials, thus allowing each patient’s donation to support multiple downstream research programs.

DNA Extraction: Methodologies have been developed for efficient extraction of DNA from buffy coat samples on the robots, which obtained the highest score for proficiency testing as evaluated by the Integrated Biobank of Luxembourgh (IBBL) for DNA Quantification and Purity and DNA Extraction Efficiency. Manual DNA extraction is estimated to take approximately 8.8 minutes/sample, compared to the 1.7 minutes/sample on the Star, which has a current maximal capacity of 1128 samples/week including five 7.75 hour shifts. It is an excellent solution for projects that require large numbers of DNA extractions.

Tissue Microarray (TMA)

Tissue Microarray (TMA) Production: The ACRB can build custom TMAs using our own FFPE block collection as well as blocks from some clinical laboratories. Contact us for more information. Immunohistochemistry (IHC) is an important tool used to screen Formalin-Fixed Paraffin-Embedded (FFPE) sections of tumour tissue for biomarker expression, toward the goal of personalized medicine. The use of TMAs ensures uniform conditions for all biospecimens interrogated and is very cost effective as the IHC reagents used to probe one tissue biospecimen can now be used to assay 100s of patient biospecimens at once.