LGC adds digital PCR to its service offering

By Dr Matt Wilkinson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Molecular biology Polymerase chain reaction

UK laboratory services firm LGC has brought the first BioMark system into the UK in order to accurately quantify rare gene sequences for its pharmaceutical customers.

The purchase, for which financial terms were not disclosed, will enable LGC to offer digital PCR (polymerase chain reaction) services to its customers in addition to its current offering of quantitative PCR, genotyping, gene expression, copy number variation and absolute quantification for sequencing.

Digital PCR is used to directly quantify the number of copies of a target sequence in a sample and overcomes the experimental uncertainties associated with real-time (RT) PCR that measures the rate of increase in fluorescence during successive PCR cycles.

While RT-PCR provides an excellent comparative measure between the sequences present in different samples, the values obtained do not have relate to the absolute number of copies of a sequence per sample.

Initially, the system will be used for PCR and gene expression projects in LGC’s Research and Technology Division, known for its use of tandem mass spectrometry, separation science and analytical molecular biology to enable the accurate quantification of constituents at trace levels

Dr Derek Craston, director of LGC's Research & Technology Division, said: “the system will initially be used by the scientific teams in LGC's Research & Technology Division to look at the accurate quantification of rare target sequences for applications such as health diagnostics and monitoring the efficiency of drug therapies.”

In the future, the firm said it will also use the system in its LGC Standards, Life and Food Sciences and LGC Forensics divisions.

The BioMark system uses integrated fluidic circuits (IFCs) to allow scientists to conduct highly-parallel nano-volume reactions in a single device, which not only improves throughput, but enables researchers to use smaller samples and less reagents.

The BioMark 96.96 Dynamic Array is capable of performing 9,216 simultaneous real-time PCR experiments running gold-standard TaqMan assays in nanoliter quantities.

Precise amounts of reagents and reactants are driven into chambers in the IFC, with the whole process controlled by thousands of tiny silicon rubber valves that are controlled by applying pressure to ‘control channels’ in the circuit.

Perhaps most importantly the system can automate the thousands of dilution steps needed to conduct digital PCR which is used to absolutely quantify the amount of a target sequence in a sample.

The technique works on the principal that target sequences can be counted if a sample is diluted to such an extent that only one target molecule will be present in a well after the sample is distributed to hundreds of reaction wells.

Gajus Worthington, CEO of Fluidigm, said: “LGC is well-suited to exploit the increasing opportunities for more accurate DNA quantification that digital PCR offers."

Related topics Preclinical Research Preclinical

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