New thermal cycler from MWG

Related tags Polymerase chain reaction

The opening up of the European market for thermal cyclers earlier
this month has been followed swiftly by the launch of a new product
in the category from Germany's MWG Biotech, reports Phil
Taylor.

MWG was among a number of companies benefiting from the revoking of a European patent (No 236 069 B1), held by Applera, that required it to pay royalties on sales of its earlier thermal cyclers, marketed under the Primus brand.

The new THEQ LifeCycler, the first product to come out of MWG's collaboration last year​ with the UK's Quanta Biotech, will escape from this royalty requirement.

Thermal cyclers are a standard bit of equipment in any laboratory using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technologies to look at gene expression. They tend to be used by pharmaceutical companies looking at gene expression in response to drug treatment and to compare normal and diseased tissues to hunt for disease associated gene sequences.

The THEQ LifeCycler has been designed to make carrying out PCR experiments as simple as possible, even for users who are not familiar with using this type of equipment. Its unique feature in the marketplace is that it enables an entire PCR lab to be run from one personal computer, doing away with the yards of cable clutter that are required with rival systems, said an MWG spokeswoman.

Another new feature is a colour touch-sensitive screen that can be used to programme protocols, and the addition of a USB interface which means that the device can be set up directly from a memory stick and researchers can swap from machine to machine without having to re-programme.

The interface programming for the THEQ LifeCycler "is so self explanatory that the system can be operated virtually without ever having to consult the manual,"​ said the spokeswoman.

Finally, the machine offers both standard and gradient protocols at the touch of a button, which means that researchers do not have to change machines to switch between these protocols.

One of the key targets of the Quanta collaboration was to give MWG a lever into real-time PCR, which provides a quantitative as well as qualitative assessment of gene expression within a sample. The THEQ LifeCycler does not have a real-time capability, but this will be added in future products from the collaboration, said the spokeswoman.

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