Lightweight sample preparation proves popular

By Mike Nagle

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Protein

Pressure BioSciences (PBI) is set to release a new lightweight
version of its pressure cycling instrument to control biomolecular
interactions, after a downsized demo model proved surprisingly

The Barocycler NEP2320 is a smaller, more compact version of the Massachusetts-based company's existing pressure cycling instrument, the NEP3229. The new machine costs less, weighs less (35kg compared to nearly 160kg), and still offers "many of the technical capabilities of the higher throughput Barocycler", according to PBI. However, the payoff is that it can only process one sample at a time instead of three. "We developed the NEP2320 instrument to enable our sales force to more easily demonstrate the power of PCT [pressure cycling technology],"​ said Dr Nathan Lawrence, head of marketing and sales for PBI. However, Lawrence went on to explain that it soon became apparent to PBS that there may be a niche in proteomics and genomics labs for the smaller version. Sample preparation has been a necessity for scientists for years but traditional techniques are often seen as not fast enough in light of the increasing demand for productivity and high-throughput experiments. Pressure cycling is one way of reducing this bottleneck in genomic and proteomic research. Pressure is cycled between ambient and ultra-high levels (up to 35,000psi or more) to control biomolecular interactions. The company has 18 patents covering various applications of PCT, including such areas as genomic and proteomic sample preparation, pathogen inactivation, the control of chemical reactions (particularly enzymes), immunodiagnostics, and protein purification. At the recent GOT summit held in Boston, Dr Alexander Lazarev of PBI explained that sample preparation still remains a major bottleneck because, during the past several decades, most efforts have been made in the development of the analytical instrumentation and informatics. With the Barocycler, the pressure can be set to the desired level between 5,000 psi and 35,000psi pressure in a under 3 seconds and the chamber rapidly depressurised on a millisecond time scale, according to Lazarev. This can be used to control biomolecular interactions - as pressure increases, cells are killed and viruses disrupted. Eventually, complex structures disassociate and, at even higher pressures, proteins and nucleic acids are broken down. A further application is in deforming lipid bilayers, which are critical to cell function. Once the pressure is released, a solvent can be used to dissolve the components of the membrane, normally lost into the so-called 'cell debris', according to Lazarev. The initial application of the technology is the rapid and reproducible extraction of DNA, RNA, small molecules, and proteins from a wide variety of cells and tissues, particularly those considered 'hard-to-lyse', according to PBI. The equipment is also versatile - it can run on lab supplied air, compressed gas, or a stand-alone compressor. However, new technology can be expensive and some labs can't afford to use the latest techniques. "We believe that there are over 200,000 scientists throughout the world who can benefit from the PCT Sample Preparation System,"​ said Richard Schumacher, founder and CEO of PBI. "The needs of these scientists vary on a number of factors, including sample throughput, available laboratory space for instrumentation, and budget limitations. We believe that our ability to offer two Barocycler models with comparable technical capabilities, but with distinctly different instrument features and price levels, will enable us to expand the use of PCT at a faster pace to more and more life science companies."

Related topics Preclinical Research

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