A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

TekCel and Dynex Technologies, subsidiaries of Magellan Biosciences (Chelmsford, Massachusetts), featured a selection of their automated laboratory systems at the LabAutomation2006 conference in Palm Springs, California, which concluded yesterday.

TekCel demonstrated its TubeServer module, which it calls the "brains" of its TubeStor/Server localized-storage system for secure compound management, which features integrated active thaw, application-program interface, handoff to third-party device and integrated 1-D and 2-D barcode reading.

"The system delivers huge advantages in flexibility, speed, throughput, ease of use and security of samples for drug discovery and other critical biomedical-research applications," the company said. "Multiple users can simultaneously cherry pick, process and store jobs for execution immediately or in the future, while the integrated input/ output device enables users to deliver multiple racks in and out of storage at the same time."

In addition, the system tracks every 2-D-barcoded tube on entry to and exit from the system and samples remain in a temperature-controlled, inert environment – right up to the moment they are delivered – to ensure sample security and extended sample lifetimes.

Dynex previewed its new DS2 system, an automated workstation designed for lower-throughput clinical labs – from immunology to infectious disease, food and drugs-of-abuse testing.

Based on the company's higher-throughput DSX, the DS2 features advanced automation and liquid-handling capabilities. The DS2 automated workstation can process two 96-well microplates and up to 12 different assays simultaneously, while the DSX can process up to 48 different assays on as many as four plates, according to Dynex.

The DS2 and DSX are both open systems that perform all of the analytical steps required for virtually any ELISA immunoassay: adding samples and reagents, washing, incubating, and absorbance detecting. In addition, they feature advanced controls and operate as full walk-away systems with sample ID-bar-code reading, chain-of-custody, and instrument-diagnostic capabilities.

In other conference news:

• Dimatix (Santa Clara, California), a provider of commercial and industrial ink jet products, said that its cartridge-based Dimatix Materials Printer (DMP) system, a solution designed for "high-precision jetting of functional fluids," would have "dramatic impact on various bioscience applications."

With the DMP-2800 series printer, researchers can save time and maximize small, expensive fluids – such as DNA, enzymes, proteins and polymers – needed in their rese-arch, the company said.

Dimatix's new DMP-2800 series printer can deposit 10 picoliter-sized droplets of fluid to print feature sizes as small as 40 microns on any type of surface, including plastic, glass, silicon, membranes, gels and paper, according to the company. Since this deposition technique requires less fluid, the number of potential reactions with a given amount of fluid is increased significantly. In comparison to traditional dispensing methods where each microliter-sized droplet typically yields about 100 tests, the DMP-2800's picoliter-sized droplets allow experiments in the millions, the company said.

• Thermo Electron (Waltham, Massachusetts), a developer of analytical instruments, unveiled the HCS WorkCell, a high-content screening system combining a small footprint with state-of-the art software.

A turnkey system, the HCS WorkCell is designed as an automated solution easy to relocate and freeing up lab floor space. It provides cell-based analysis for applications such as stem cell research, cell health and sRNAi technology via instrumentation and software and web service capabilities. The HCS WorkCell also allows for easy configuration for sample tracking and data export.

The HCS WorkCell can be used with Thermo's Orchestrator software, offering workflow tool for improving laboratory operations. Orchestrator is a software solution with the added ability to connect the flow of information from automation scheduling software to a laboratory information and management systems database.

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