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BioMérieux Aims to Simplify, Quicken PCR Setup With New Automated Sample Prep Instrument

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NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Successfully executing all the pipetting steps to set up a real-time PCR reaction requires focused concentration. In high-complexity labs performing multiple tests per run, this can also be quite demanding of technician time.

A new instrument from BioMérieux now aims to simplify this process, allowing walk-away PCR setup of a 96-well plate in around 35 minutes.

Called easyStream, the instrument was highlighted by the firm at the American Association of Clinical Chemistry annual meeting and lab expo last week in Atlanta.

Greg Porter, US clinical marketing manager for microbiology at BioMérieux, demonstrated the instrument to GenomeWeb at the meeting. In a follow-up interview, he said that easyStream is currently available, but the official marketing launch will be later this month. The insturment has also been designed to work seamlessly with the firm's widely-used easyMag nucleic acid extraction platform, which was displayed alongside the instrument.

"The easyStream allows automated real-time PCR set up from easyMag eluates," Porter explained.

The easyMag platform can process DNA and RNA from multiple sample types side by side to generate a high-quality eluate. This is carried out in the easyMag cartridge — an eight-well vessel that holds the nucleic acid eluates purified from the extraction process.

This cartridge can then go directly onto the easyStream instrument, which is "pretty unique for a standard off-the-shelf assay set-up machine; there isn't anything else that offers that," Porter noted.

The platform supports the Life Technologies ABI 7500 thermal cycler from Thermo Fisher, the actualization of a previously reported strategic agreement made in 2013. The instrument is also compatible with the Bio-Rad CFX96, the Roche LightCycler 480, and the Qiagen Rotor-Gene Q, and it supports certain associated consumables that these thermal cyclers use.

EasyStream requires various tubes for master mix, controls and nucleic acids to be added, and storage. For those, the firm has validated two commonly used tube types from Sarstedt and Eppendorf. 

The main competitor for easyStream is likely the Qiagen Qiagility, which was known as the CAS 1200 from Corbett Scientific before it was acquired by Qiagen, Porter said.

Labs pairing that platform and easyMag need to pipette eluate off the easyMag cartridges, so pairing with easyStream would be more efficient.

The easyStream is also quieter, sturdier, and is projected to require less calibration and maintenance, Porter said, adding that the only user maintenance needed is basic cleaning of the instrument.

"If you save a half an hour pipetting, but you then need to do half an hour of maintenance or calibration, then you're not saving time," he said. The easyStream also starts up very quickly.

It may further be distinguished from other setup instruments by vividly colored indicator lights that display along the edges of the thick glass cover, enabling users to check in on the instrument from across the lab to see when a run is finished, for example. 

The device has barcode-reading capability to improve traceability and is fully programmable. Users can also monitor the steps being executed from a connected PC that displays the plate map and updates as the steps are performed.

HEPA-filtering and a slight positive pressure within the closed instrument can reduce contamination during setup, and the instrument has UV lights that can be turned on between runs as well.

Porter said easyStream will be comparably priced to other instruments on the market, but for specific pricing customers must contact a BioMérieux instrument specialist.

The firm is also developing an improved workflow connectivity solution called NucliSENtral V2 for high-complexity LDT workflows.

This software will help labs "manage the process, from sample extraction to an import file for the thermal cycler," Porter said. That connectivity will be available sometime in the first quarter of next year. 

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