David Suzuki Citizen science and genetic testing yield positive results
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the Good, the Bad & the Ugly
Citizen Science and Genetic Testing Yield Positive Results By David suzuki
By Hermione Wilson
Free public database of sequenced animal genomes leads to positive results.
Researchers at the Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals are taking a closer look at the foods we eat.
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WHY THE RIGHT LABEL MATTERS BY DEL WILLIAMS
Durable labels in a lab setting can enhance safety and productivity.
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he ongoing migrant crisis in Europe has at least two drivers. The first is war. The second is food – or lack of it. Starvation – called “food insecurity” these days – is real, and it is killing people. According to the UN food agency, many of the millions of people launching themselves across the Mediterranean and into Europe are looking for something to eat. But it’s a mistake to think starvation is a problem only for Africans and North Koreans. According to new research on the issue – and there is plenty of it – parts of Canada slipped into the Third World when we weren’t looking. Four million Canadians (nearly 13 per cent of households) live without regular access to healthy food. In Ontario, more than a half million households struggle to feed themselves, and in Nova Scotia, 18 per cent of food-insecure Nova Scotians report having lost weight because they miss meals. Among the worst off are the residents of Nunavut, where two-thirds of minors live in food-insecure households. The situation in Nunavut is so bad that Valerie Tarasuk, a professor in nutritional sciences at the University of Toronto, told the CBC that food insecurity in Nunavut “should be considered a national crisis.” But it isn’t a national crisis. Those of us in comfortable Canada worry about the cost of a head of cauliflower, but we still buy it, and what we don’t eat of it, we throw out. Researchers estimate Canadians throw $31 billion worth of food annually – a lot of cauliflower. Food insecurity may as well be a problem for Martians, not our neighbours up north. Solutions are in short supply. Charity is a bandage – there simply aren’t enough church basements to store the millions of tonnes of food hungry Canadians need. Urban gardens and food forests (growing fruit trees inside cities) are fashionable but they won’t generate more than a side salad and a school snack once or twice a season. The sad fact is that healthy food is becoming too expensive for many Canadians to afford. The sadder fact is that our society seems increasingly unable and unwilling to deal with the problems of the day. How do we feed our starving neighbours? What do we do about the opioid addictions possessing ever larger numbers of Canadians? What can we do to deflate the housing bubble without popping it and destroying the finances of tens of thousands of Canadians who unwisely overextended themselves? What should we do about the massive personal debt loads Canadians carry – debt loads so large they may prohibit collective action when we need it? These questions need answers from our leaders. But they aren’t answering because they aren’t leaders. Elected officials pinball from problem to problem – and photo op to photo op – without a vision, a mission, or a plan. Journalists, increasingly irrelevant in the noise of social media, debate cultural appropriation and who can say what. Hyperpoliticized universities are devolving into no-go zones for free thought and open discussion. And technology companies – those “disruptors” in whom we place so much faith – spend their efforts building personal rocket ships for billionaires and searching for new ways to automate human labour. Which will, of course, make paying the grocery bill even harder for many low-income Canadians. To end problems like food insecurity, we need to act. The trouble is that right action requires an ethic, a willingness to affirm what’s right and to deny what’s wrong. More and more, we’re unwilling to praise what’s right and condemn what’s wrong. On the touchy subjects, the communal response is usually, Who am I to judge? It’s a spineless statement with a single translation: Who am I to care? Even on the easy questions, like whether to feed our neighbours, we sit somewhere in the middle. Not saying no, but hardly saying yes. Robert Price is the former Managing Editor of this publication. Follow him @pricerobertg.
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Canadian NEWS How Much Caffeine is Enough?
Government to Support Scientific Collaboration in the Middle East
Health Canada is advising Canadians about safe levels of caffeine consumption. Caffeine can be either naturally present or added during the manufacturing process of various foods and beverages. Consuming too much can cause insomnia, headaches, irritability, and nervousness. For women who may become pregnant or are pregnant, the possible health effects of consuming too much caffeine include an increased risk of miscarriage and a risk of low birth weight. Healthy adults should have no more than 400 mg of caffeine intake per day, or three cups of coffee.
he federal government recently announced Canada has joined the Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East (SESAME) as an observer state. Officially opening in Jordan on May 16, SESAME is a co-operative venture designed on the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) model and is the Middle East’s first major international research centre.
Synchrotrons use high-energy electrons to produce extremely bright light that can be separated out into different wavelengths for researchers to use, like a giant microscope, to study the structure and chemistry of materials. Synchrotrons have numerous research applications, including developing new materials and new drugs, improving crop yields and preserving cultural artifacts. “In addition to being a catalyst for scientific innovation, the SESAME project demonstrates that countries in the Middle East can work together to advance science through cooperation in multilateral institutions,” notes The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs.
BAX System detects Listeria Species
Health Canada has included Hygiena’s BAX System Real-Time PCR Assay as a validated method to screen surfaces for Listeria species, a potentially harmful group of microbes and a common cause of foodborne illness, with results available in less than 24 hours. “This validates the BAX System method for reference laboratories to help maintain the safety and quality of our food supply, and provide highly accurate results to help release products faster, and save inventory costs,” says Martin Easter, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer of Hygiena.
Synchrotrons have numerous research applications, including developing new materials and new drugs, improving crop yields and preserving cultural artifacts.
$15M Investment at University of Montreal will Support Research
The federal government $15.74 million in infrastructure at the University of Montreal. The funding will help the institution continue to innovate and to train health professionals. A portion of the funding will enable the university to expand the Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital Research Centre to accommodate about 50 scientists specializing in cellular and molecular therapy and regenerative medicine. Part of this investment will also be used to create a global centre for health and cardiovascular prevention training and to expand the EPIC Centre’s Cardiac Rehabilitation and Secondary Prevention Clinic at the Montreal Heart Institute.
May/June 2017 Lab Business
Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science
Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs
Worldwide NEWS KAUST and Thermo Fisher Scientific Open Center of Excellence in Electron Microscopy
ing Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. held an opening ceremony in May for the Electron Microscopy Center of Excellence at the KAUST campus in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia.
New Network to Strengthen Diagnosis of Mosquito-borne Diseases
The Arbovirus Diagnostic Laboratories Network (RELDA), coordinated by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), is working to strengthen the diagnosis of mosquito-borne diseases to ensure a timely response to outbreaks and epidemics caused by these viruses. In May, PAHO held the first meeting of the new network, which started with dengue and has expanded its range of action to address new challenges posed by Zika, chikungunya, yellow fever and other arboviruses that could emerge in the future.
MilliporeSigma Develops Alternative CRISPR Genome Editing Method
The Center of Excellence aims to offer KAUST scientists and collaborators exploration and experimentation capabilities through Thermo Fisher’s leading electron microscopy platform. Industry partners located in the KAUST Research and Technology Park will also benefit from proximity to Thermo Fisher's deep application knowledge in materials science. “By gaining access to the latest characterization techniques, hardware and software available on the market, KAUST will have the opportunity to advance scientific research in the areas of chemistry and catalyst research, nanoparticles and life sciences,” says Michael Shafer, President, Materials and Structural Analysis, Thermo Fisher. The opening ceremony included the official commissioning of the FEI Titan Themis Z scanning transmission electron microscope (S/TEM), the most advanced analytical transmission electron microscope commercially available to date and the first to be installed in the world. Materials scientists use the Titan Themis Z to understand relationships between a material’s larger-scale physical properties and its atomic-scale composition and structure. This system joins other highly advanced electron microscopy systems already installed at the center, including a total of 16 electron microscopes from Thermo Fisher. “This centre embodies the mission of our strategic partnership with Thermo Fisher to achieve our common goals in the advancement of highperformance imaging technologies,” says Dr. Justin Mynar, Director of the KAUST Core Laboratories and Major Facilities.
MilliporeSigma has developed a new genome editing tool that makes CRISPR more efficient, flexible and specific, giving researchers more experimental options and faster results that can accelerate drug development and access to new therapies. This new technique, called “proxyCRISPR”, provides access to previously unreachable areas of the genome. “With more flexible and easy-to-use genome editing technologies, there is greater potential in research, bioprocessing and novel treatment modalities,” says Udit Batra, CEO, MilliporeSigma. The company was the first to manufacture arrayed CRISPR libraries covering the entire human genome.
No Increased Risk of Suicide in Veterans
Research from the University of Glasgow, using data from the Scottish Veterans Health Study, analyzed the long-term risks of suicide in all veterans living in Scotland who served between 1960 and 2012, in comparison with non-veterans. Overall there was no difference between the veterans and the non-veterans, but the risk was increased in older veterans, women who joined the Services before 1992, and people who had left service early. However, young veterans were not at increased risk.
Worldwide NEWS UNESCO Publishes First Report on Ocean Sciences
cean sciences are led by a small number of industrialized countries although collecting data and taking the measure of the ocean’s health is a global priority considering the economic and environmental stakes involved, according to the Global Ocean Science Report: The Current Status of Ocean Science around the World, compiled by UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission. The new report advocates increased investment into research and calls for greater international scientific cooperation. The report’s first observation is that ocean sciences are expensive since sounding the seas requires costly ships and equipment, satellite imaging, underwater robots or remotely controlled vehicles. The collection and processing of data by thousands of scientists is also costly. Only industrialized countries can afford such investments and the largest ocean research budgets today are to be found in Australia, France, Germany, the Republic of Korea, and the U.S. Ocean sciences have relied heavily on national public funding, which on average accounts for more than 70% of financing. The authors argue that ensuring stable funding is particularly important considering financial revenues obtained from the ocean. In 2010 the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimated the ocean to yield an added value of $1.5 trillion. The private sector’s contribution to ocean research has indeed grown with a number of merchant ships collecting data for scientific projects. Also, non-governmental organizations such as the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and The David and Lucile Packard Foundation are funding ocean science or preservation programmes. Specialized institutions and laboratories play a leading role in the study of subjects such as marine biodiversity and ecosystems, water acidification or the impact of human activity on coastal environments. Most of these institutions are situated in Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the UK and the U.S. These research centres tend to specialize in their respective countries’ priority areas. Thus, Finland, India and Norway have many institutions that specialize in fishing, while Argentina, France, Italy, Kuwait and the Russian Federation tend to focus on ocean observation. Research ships are an important element in marine research in as far as they give scientists access both to coastal areas and to the high seas. A total of 371 such ships plough the world’s seas. Fifty-one of them fly the U.S. flag, 29 are Japanese, 28 German, 27 Turkish, 26 Korean, 20 Canada, 20 Italian and 18 French. Disparities are also considerable when it comes to human resources. China has the largest contingent of people employed in marine sciences totalling 38,000 scientists and technicians. It is worth noting that Norway has the highest number of researchers per million inhabitants (364), followed by Belgium (74). Women researchers are more numerous in the marine sciences than in the sciences as a whole. In 2013, women accounted for 38% of ocean scientists, 10% more than in other areas of scientific research. The report also contains a series of recommendations for policy-makers. It advocates reinforced cooperation among countries and ocean-centred institutions to enable as many countries as possible to carry out research and maximize its impact. It also recommends boosting the collection and treatment of data, as well as the development of alternative financing models. While taking stock of the status of ocean science in the world, the report is designed to help identify the strengths and weaknesses of this science, which has a direct impact both on the economy and on the environment. To be published every five years, the inaugural Report also serves as an instrument to assess progress in the accomplishment of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal No.14 for 2030: “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources.”
May/June 2017 Lab Business
Enzyme Brings Stability to Mass Spec MilliporeSigma’s Advanced Proteomics Grade SOLuTrypsin is an exclusive, solution stable enzyme for mass spectrometry. Designed to be stable in solution when refrigerated, SOLu-Trypsin can be used immediately without preparation. SOLuTrypsin allows excess product to be saved for future use, thus eliminating unnecessary waste and cost. It is formulated with a high-purity recombinant trypsin, free of chymotryptic activity, to ensure high fidelity digestion.
BAquaculture Feed from Wine Industry Waste
The South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) has partnered with Tarac Technologies to produce a cheaper, better-performing food source for the farmed abalone industry made from grape marc. Steam distilled grape marc, registered as Acti-Meal, is the heat-treated leftover after wine is made. Tarac Technologies is a world leader in turning grape marc into a range of value-added products ranging from grape spirit to stock feed. During the three-month lab trial at a water temperature of 22 C, abalone on the grape marc diet showed a 6% improvement in biomass gain and a 2.9% increase in shell growth rate compared with abalone fed a commercial diet.
ince I started working as a geneticist in the early 1960s, the field has changed considerably. James Watson, Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins won the 1962 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for their discovery of the double helix structure of DNA. Researchers then “cracked” the genetic code, which held promise for fields like health and medicine. It was an exciting time to be working in the lab. More than 40 years later, in 2003, an international group of scientists sequenced the entire human genetic code. Researchers can now find a gene suspected to cause a disease in a matter of days, a process that took years before the Human Genome Project. As of 2013, more than 2,000 genetic tests were available for human conditions. Forty years ago, I never dreamed scientists would have the knowledge and manipulative capabilities that have become standard practice today. In a couple of decades, genetics has allowed for systematic inventorying of the world's biodiversity. Canada’s Centre for Biodiversity Genomics at the University of Guelph has the genomes of more than 265,000 named species identified with barcodes in its database. The cost to analyze a sample against this free public database is about $10. Cost reductions and digital communication allow citizen scientists to utilize an enormous storehouse of information. Young citizen scientists in San Diego were recently able to help compile information about the area’s biodiversity through their local libraries. Kids signed out genetic testing kits – which included sampling vials, tweezers and a return bag – through Catalog of Life @ the Library. They then uploaded photos and locations of their finds using a LifeScanner or website. It’s part of an effort to collect 4,000 samples of local bug life. After returning kits to the library, the young scientists could go online to see and compare the genetic barcodes of their discoveries. According to the library, “Only an estimated 20 percent of species on earth have been identified by their DNA barcode.” The San Diego program is part of Barcode of Life, which has the ambitious goal of identifying all life on Earth to help researchers “understand the diversity of species, monitor the health of the environment and the impacts of climate change.” Canada’s Centre for Biodiversity Genomics is doing the genetic sequencing. People in Canada can also help identify seafood fraud with the LifeScanner service. Genetic testing helps consumers identify the species and possibly origin of fish they buy – important for people who care about sustainability and health and nutrition. Identifying and tracing seafood has long been a challenge, especially because about 40 per cent of
By David Suzuki with contributions from Ian Hanington
Citizen Science and Genetic Testing
Yield Positive Results wild-caught seafood is traded internationally – and labelling is often inadequate. Once fish are skinned, cleaned and packaged, it’s not always easy to tell what they are. If you buy something labelled “rockfish” in Canada, it could be one of more than 100 species. Often, labels don’t indicate whether the fish were caught or processed sustainably. Although the European Union and U.S. require more information on seafood labels than Canada, one study found 41 per cent of U.S. seafood is mislabelled. A European study found stronger policies combined with public information led to less mislabelling. People in Canada have demanded better legislation to trace seafood products. More than 12,000 people recently sent letters to government asking for better labelling. SeaChoice (the David Suzuki Foundation is a member) is working with LifeScanner to register 300 people in Canada to test seafood, in part to determine whether labels are accurate. Participants will get testing kits, buy seafood, collect data and images and return samples in a provided envelope. Samples will be analyzed and coded, with results posted online. With the help of citizen scientists, genetic testing can offer a powerful approach to righting environmental wrongs. Combining crowdsourced scientific data, public policy reform and consumer activism is already showing positive results. The same approach could work in areas such as testing for antibiotics, pesticide and mercury residues and more. DNA Day was celebrated in Canada on April 21 and the U.S. on April 25, to commemorate completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003 and discovery of DNA’s double helix in 1953. We’ve come a long way since then, but we still have much to learn. Citizen scientists are helping! LB
Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation. Ian Hanington is Senior Editor, David Suzuki Foundation. Learn more at www.davidsuzuki.org.
RCFFN Director Peter Jones stands in front of the Mobile Clinical Nutrition Research Unit. The mobile unit is part of the Manitoba Personalized Lifestyle Research (TMPLR) program, a research study examining how genetics and lifestyle interact to shape the health of Manitobans.
the Good, the Bad & the Ugly Food safety, research and product development are all in a dayâ€™s work for the analytical lab at the Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals
May/June 2017 Lab Business
Lab PROFILE story by
esearchers at the Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals (RCFFN) in Winnipeg, are cooking up a storm. Seventy-five per cent of the work done at the RCFFN is dedicated to product development, says Analytical Lab Coordinator, Mark Miller-Williams. The other 25 per cent, he says, is routine lab analysis work, which involves food safety, analyzing taste profiles and researching new functional food sources. The 60,000-sq. ft. facility is divided into pilot plants, a milling facility, a secondary processing plant, and two clinical areas – one for long-term feeding trials and the other for shorter term “feed and bleed” trials. The RCFFN makes its home in SmartPark Research and Technology Park at the University of Manitoba and its mandate, according to the mission statement, is to “lead functional food and nutraceutical research for the improvement of health and nutrition, to support the development of an economically viable functional food industry in Manitoba and western Canada.” “The University of Manitoba set up the RCFFN in 2005 to act as a one-stop shop in order to engage with industry... and solve common problems,” says Peter Jones, Director of RCFFN and Professor of Food Science at the University of Manitoba.
The University of Manitoba set up the RCFFN in 2005 to act as a one-stop shop in order to engage with industry... and solve common problems, – Peter Jones, Director of RCFFN and Professor of Food Science
Lab PROFILE The Lab
The RCFFN’s analytical laboratory is equipped with a Vitros 350 chemistry analyzer, a machine Miller-Williams says one might find in a hospital blood chemistry lab. A Quattro Micro Triple Quadrupole mass spectrometer from Waters Corporation, which is hooked up to a Waters Acquity UPLC System, specializes in targeted analytes, metabolites that are small molecules, peptides from complex matrices, serum, tissue, cell cultures and other biological forces. A GC-FID (Gas Chromatography – Flame Ionisation Detector) from Bruker does quantitative analysis of known compounds and is especially effective in analyzing fatty acids. The lab also possesses an Agilent 689ON network gas chromatograph which Miller-Williams says produces excellent results for a number of research applications, as well as food safety, pesticide determination and chemical analysis. The RCFFN lab also recently acquired a QuickPlex SQ 120 electrochemiluminesence immunoassay plate reader from Meso Scale Discovery that is able to perform a number of different tests. With 10 spots per well and the capacity for 10 different assays in each, Miller-Williams says the QuickPlex gives researchers the ability to design their own assays for each well. “What we have in our analytic lab is the capacity to determine the good, the bad, and the ugly in food,” Jones says. “We’re always interested in functional components that make up the food we eat. So the GC-FID Mark [mentioned] would be to do something such as look at a fish oil to assess how much omega-3 fatty acids might be in it, or how much of a polyphenol might be in some kind of a plant matrix. We have a lot of equipment that measures both the good things as well as possibly some of the deleterious ingredients in foods.” The sophisticated equipment in the lab allows RCFFN researchers to do indepth analysis of food products, in the case of food safety applications. The more sophisticated approaches, involving machines like the GC-FID, and the high performance liquid chromatography (HPLCs), and ultra performance
May/June 2017 Lab Business
Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau tours a lab at the RCFFN where researcher Ryan Sestric is testing a system which uses synthetic fish waste as the primary feed source for specialized algae.
liquid chromatography systems (UPLCs), can be used to measure “parts per million, in some cases, or even parts per 10 million or parts per billion,” Jones says. “We can go down to picogram levels with some of this equipment when we’re looking for toxic agents.” Not all the analysis in the lab is about looking for dangerous toxins in food, or analyzing its health benefits, Jones says. The RCFFN boasts an Alpha MOS electronic nose and tongue that can tell researchers whether the taste profile of a food product will be negatively or positively perceived by humans. “It’s basically a fingerprint mass spec that gives you different bandwidths,” Jones explains. When it comes to food products, he says, taste is important, and that is something scientists often forget. “Part of the problem in our domain is that food scientists are so keen on making foods that are healthy and functional, that they forget about the fact that taste is the most important constituent,” Jones says. “When the cardboard box that the food is supplied in tastes better than the food itself, no one’s going to buy the stuff, so our lab has got to be sensitive to that.”
What we have in our analytic lab is the capacity to determine the good, the bad, and the ugly in food. – Peter Jones, Director of RCFFN and Professor of Food Science
Lab PROFILE The Agilent GC-MS is pictured at the forefront in an analytical equipment room.
We essentially become the sandbox in which they can play without them having to construct research laboratory facilities of their own. – Peter Jones, Director of RCFFN and Professor of Food Science
Along with the day to day business of working with food companies to test and develop commercial products, the RCFFN puts its hi-tech equipment to work on various research projects. The centre collaborates with big companies and other research centres around the world in the quest to learn more about the health benefits of the foods we eat. “We have [ongoing clinical] trials with Unilever, with Pepsico, and then we go right down to what we affectionately call mom-and-pop shops,” Jones says. “We essentially become the sandbox in which they can play without them having to construct research laboratory facilities of their own.” Some of the projects RCFFN has been involved with include research that demonstrated the efficacy of plant sterol
yogurts and margarines, and the discovery of a source of fibre in fava beans that reduces cholesterol absorption, as well as blood sugar uptake and insulin levels. The centre has also conducted a topical experiment to test the ability of an algae extract to reduce psoriasis. “Right now we’re looking at a proposal with a company to investigate whether an algae-derived mixture would be effective in reducing the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease,” Jones says. In addition to its analytical capabilities, the RCFFN facility has growth chambers in its basement where researchers can cultivate plants with certain traits and observe them as they grow under different environmental conditions, Jones says.
“Sometimes companies come to us with genetically modified plants, so we grow them up. We then use our lab equipment to find out what those plants will be growing up [to be],” he says. Recently RCFFN ran an experiment where researchers turned up the heat on wheat plants to simulate what might happen with global warming, to see which varieties were susceptible or resistant to heat. “We found that some levels of omega3s were reduced in plants exposed to heat,” Jones says. “If we wanted, we could take a look at whether the bioactive materials found in the plants at different heat levels were working as well in humans.”
It’s an interesting, challenging atmosphere to work in. – Mark Miller-Williams Analytical Lab Coordinator
“There are quite a lot of projects revolving around the centre and it keeps everybody pretty busy,” Miller-Williams says. “There’s no shortage of things to do.” He’s not kidding. There are currently eight companies working out of RCFFN and eight ongoing clinical trials. Jones attributes the efficiency of the centre to staff like Miller-Williams who are “essentially masters of all trades and jacks of none.” “This equipment isn’t getting any younger and it’s extremely complicated,” he says. “It’s pretty tough actually to be able to identify what the problems are with this equipment that is approaching 10 years of age or older.” Between keeping complicated lab equipment in working order and running a number of research and analytical projects, the researchers at RCFFN are no doubt kept on their toes. “It’s an interesting, challenging atmosphere to work in,” says Miller-Williams. LB
Tablet and capsule packaging line in the Natural Health Products department.
May/June 2017 Lab Business
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y t i l i b a r u D g n i Defin : s l e b a L l a i r t s u In Ind s r e tt a M l e b a L t h ig Why the R story by
Durable labels can enhance safety, productivity and prevent a host of problems caused by using standard paper labels not designed for industrial applications
lthough standard “office” labels are more than sufficient for routine applications like filing, addressing envelopes, and shipping boxes, they are not designed to withstand the range of conditions and hazards found in harsh industrial settings such as warehouses, food production lines, laboratories, or construction sites. Yet despite the availability of more durable offerings, many continue to use officegrade, “paper” labels for everything from warehouse racks and equipment to identifying chemical containers. This is often due to familiarity with such products from business settings, and perhaps an incomplete understanding of the significant differences in substrates, adhesives and other technologies used to design labels for specific applications. Fortunately, film labels are available that are engineered to withstand harsh industrial environments. Some are even tested and certified to meet existing safety and regulatory requirements. These self-adhesive labels can be utilized for everything from barcoded asset tags on machinery to location IDs on parts bins and affixed to a variety of surfaces found in industrial settings such as metal, wood (pallets), glass, plastic and ceramic. Paper Labels in Industrial Settings There can be serious consequences to using standard paper labels in an industrial setting. For example, exposure to moisture, abrasion, chemicals, heat, and even sunlight can lead to torn, smeared, discoloured, unreadable labels, or labels that fall off. This can compromise safety, reduce productivity, and may lead to regulatory fines or legal consequences. For example, a missing or illegible label could not only result in a fine, but also serious injury and litigation if someone were to spill a bottle of a harsh chemical or worse, consume it. Similarly, equipment damage, unusable product, and downtime could result if the wrong solvent or lubricant is used in production. Even slightly damaged labels can be surprisingly costly, such as when inventory barcode scanning errors lead to misplaced equipment and inventory. Besides the cost of the label, estimates peg the labour costs to reprint the label at $10-$20, with up to $100 more to identify and fix any issues related to incorrect scanning. Characteristics of Durable Labels Although standard paper labels and industrial film labels appear similar at a glance, a tremendous amount of R&D and testing goes into creating each product so that it
May/June 2017 Lab Business
works for its intended application. Because of this, it is much more cost effective to use the right label from the start. “There are significant differences between office labels and industrial film labels, including the materials and adhesives used,” says Tina Huff, a group product manager at Avery Products, a leader in printable, self-adhesive labels. “For the best results, they should work with a trusted supplier that tests labels for their intended uses and provides specifications for resistance to water, chemicals, abrasion, UV, as well as service temperatures on request.” According to Huff, most self-adhesive labels are constructed of four key layers: a topcoat, substrate, adhesive, and liner. “The material characteristics of each of these layers determine how well typical paper, durable industrial, or any label, performs in its workspace,” she says. Since standard paper office labels are intended for an indoor environment, the topcoat is not waterproof, and the paper substrate tears easily and is not moisture- or chemical-resistant. In contrast, film labels can have a protective topcoat that is waterproof, even extremely chemical-resistant in some instances. The substrate is a durable, scuff and tear-resistant film that can be made from materials like polyester and vinyl. The adhesive is high-performance permanent that is also waterproof and chemical-resistant. While the topcoat, substrate and adhesive can vary for an industrial label, each adds a level of strength to the entire label “sandwich” construction. To ensure products will perform properly in the field, companies such as Avery scientifically test and evaluate how the labels stand up to a host of potential situations found in industrial
environments. These tests run the gamut, and can include exposing labels to a variety of common industrial chemicals such as isopropanol, and hydrochloric acid, as well as with cleaners, fuels, oils, lubricants, and salt water. In addition to increasing the durability of the label topcoat and substrate, additional innovations in label design and construction can improve performance further. Avery, for example, offers labels with technology which ensures that if a new label with TrueBlock technology is placed over another label that has any printed information, the old information does not bleed through which could create confusion, cause incorrect bar code scans or simply make it difficult to read. Another innovation, Self-Laminating Labels, addresses a common workaround when using office-grade labels: covering them with clear tape in an attempt to increase longevity. By offering true lamination that can be easily applied by the user, these labels provide extra protection against abrasion, dirt, moisture, chemicals and UV. For Natalie Davis, a Product Design Drafter and Safety Coordinator at Itasca, IL-based Solberg Manufacturing, utilizing paper labels covered with tape clearly was not working. “Our previous labels on our acetone and alcohol dispensers in the production area kept rubbing off and had to be replaced,” explains Davis. “We tried putting see-through tape over the labels for protection, but the incompatibility of the tape with the harsh chemicals caused the tape to crinkle and the label was impossible to read.” When Davis switched label manufacturers, she found it resolved any issues of label readability and longevity. “I put the durable labels with clear
“There are significant differences between office labels and industrial film labels, including the materials and adhesives used.” – Tina Huff, Group Product Manager, Avery Products Corporation
Application NOTE self lamination on all our dispensers, and after weeks of use and handling, it hasn’t really affected the labels,” says Davis. “The label information is easy to read and the clear lamination is easy to clean if it gets dirty. This has improved safety and saves the time and expense of having to print new labels and switch the labels every week.” Global Harmonized System (GHS) labels represent another improvement in label durability that can be critical to achieving compliance with new government regulations. GHS labels, which are regulated by OSHA and established by the United Nations to create a unified system for identifying and communicating hazardous chemicals, are required on chemical containers, including smaller containers used in down packing. When Lani O’Connor, a Safety Manager at Tollman Spring Co. could not find any small GHS labels, “As a temporary solution, I began printing our GHS labels on regular paper stock,” she says. “Since they weren’t chemicalresistant, the ink would quickly smear and run. I was spending a lot of time printing and replacing labels.” After doing some research, O’Connor discovered Avery UltraDuty GHS Chemical Labels. These labels were created to withstand outdoor use for up to two years, are tested to be waterproof for at least 90 days, and resist a wide variety of chemicals while remaining difficult to tear. Due to the harsh environments the labels are used in, the products are typically rub-tested with wet sandpaper. These industrial labels are compatible with laser or inkjet printers. Users can print in full colour using a printer they have on hand, without having to purchase a specialized printer. Armed with a better understanding of industrial labels, safety and facility managers can now avoid the pitfalls of using office-grade paper labels in such harsh settings. By doing so, companies not only eliminate the time and energy required for frequent replacement of labels, but can also avoid potential confusion and the additional hidden costs when labels become unreadable, fall-off, or otherwise fail. LB
Using Magnets and Cameras to Improve Clinical Laboratory Operations story by
Siemens develops a clinical laboratory solution to increase workflow efficiency and deliver patient test results faster
he clinical laboratory plays a vital role by delivering to healthcare professionals diagnostic test results that are used to inform critical treatment decisions. However, clinical laboratories often are challenged to meet greater testing demands while improving efficiency and delivering reliable, quality results. Laboratory diagnostic equipment designed to help meet these demands, are needed now more than ever. Automated, Flexible and Scalable Design Reduces Processing Time Clinical chemistry and immunoassay test volumes encompass the largest volume of tests produced in a routine clinical laboratory. The Atellica Solution is designed to minimize manual intervention and streamline patient sample processing while generating results for hundreds of these assays. These tests include clinical chemistry tests that are used to analyze urine and blood for chemical components like blood glucose, electrolytes, enzymes and hormones; and immunoassay tests that are used to aid in the diagnosis of life-threatening illnesses such as cancer, infectious disease and heart disease. The system is well-suited for mid-volume and high-volume labs, including hospital labs and large service providers that
process high sample volumes, sometimes up to thousands of samples per hour. A highly flexible system that can be adapted to growing testing needs and space constraints, the equipment is scalable up to 10 components and can be combined into more than 300 customizable configurations, including L-shaped, U-shaped, and linear formations. The system can also be connected to a laboratory automation track, such as Aptio Automation, to further simplify workflows and increase efficiencies. The innovative design features of the Atellica Solution include its high level of automation, including its sample management and processing, test result generation and data management. These functionalities are enabled by intelligent software, which schedules the individual movement and analysis of the samples. Cameras Support Intelligent Sample Detection The Atellica Solution is distinguished by a unique multi-camera vision system to help optimize the automation of sample management. When samples are loaded, the camera vision system inspects the sample rack to identify empty positions in the rack, determines that all caps have been removed, and checks the specifications of the sample containers. This facilitates more
rapid and efficient sample processing without manual intervention by the operator. The camera scans each sample to register the shape and fill level of each container. Samples with a high-fill level or that are from patients from whom little blood can be taken, such as infants, children and the very ill, are then transported more slowly. The shape of the sample containers is transmitted to the pipetting robots of the respective analyzers where the sample is aspirated for analysis. More than 30 different sample containers can be processed with many different dimensions, with the opportunity for more to be accommodated by “training” the camera-enabled system. Until now, systems were limited to a few specific types of containers and, because there are so many different container types, samples often required transfer to other containers by hand, introducing additional labour, materials costs and potential error into the sample processing steps. This camera vision system is designed to provide more flexibility to the laboratory to use a broader range of sample container types and potentially allow for cost reductions in the sample processing area. Bi-Directional Magnetic Transport Technology Delivers Results 10 Times Faster The system uses proprietary bi-directional magnetic transport technology that is 10 times faster than conventional conveyor belt technology. This Atellica Magline Transport technology enables the system to control the processing speed and the direction of travel for samples, providing independent control and more predictable processing of each sample. Unlike traditional uni-directional conveyor belts that move test samples past various analysis stations at a set pace, the bi-directional technology allows the flexibility to move samples backward and forward and to assign a different speed and direction for each sample carrier anywhere along the transport pathway. This is accomplished through the positioning of embedded electric coils, each of which can be controlled separately, along the transport pathway that interact with magnets in the sample carriers. To understand the value of this technology, take for example the processing of emergency “STAT” samples. In a system using a uni-directional conveyor belt, an emergency sample will either need to be routed to a special lane or testing may need to stop so that the high-priority sample can be carried by hand to the appropriate testing station. This slows down the analysis process not just for the urgent sample, but for all the samples. By contrast, with the individualized rapid transport enabled by the Atellica Magline, emergency samples are able to be processed quickly and efficiently, without the need for manual intervention or by slowing down the processing of other samples.
A highly-automated system, the Atellica Solution is designed to deliver control and simplicity so laboratory staff can focus on driving both business and clinical outcomes.
May/June 2017 Lab Business
New Engineering Design to Produce More Tests Per Hour Another differentiating feature of the Atellica Solution design is its ability to process more than 400 tests per hour, potentially offering the highest productivity per square metre in the industry. This is made possible by an innovative engineering design consisting of two concentric rings that enables the system to hold twice as many cuvettes compared to current systems. In laboratory diagnostic testing, cuvettes are moved to various stations in the analyzer for use in different stages of the testing process – for example, incubation, magnetic particle separation, washing and reading – needed for producing a patient result. The increased number of cuvettes allow them to be more efficiently processed with less waiting time for positions to become available. This, along with other engineering changes within the system, greatly increases the analyzer’s flexibility to process more tests per hour. “We engineered the Atellica Solution based on our customer needs and extensive research of market trends,” says Franz Walt, President, Laboratory Diagnostics, Siemens Healthineers. “The result is a game-changer that delivers control and simplicity, so our customers can focus on driving better business and clinical outcomes and spend less time managing operations.” LB
Lab WARE Advanced Flow Cytometry System Improves Performance and Flexibility
Cytek Biosciences Inc. recently announced the launch of its new Aurora advanced flow cytometry system, which features a combination of patent-pending, innovative technologies that improves the level of performance and flexibility. The system design, which includes excitation optics and compact semiconductor detector modules with high quantum efficiency, allows for the implementation of more detection channels per laser than conventional flow cytometry systems. Depending on the laser excitation wavelength, this permits detection of any fluorescence emission in the 400-900nm range without having to change optical filters. www.cytekbio.com
Pumps Suitable for production of Monodisperse Droplets in Various Sectors
Dolomite Microfluidics’ Mitos P-Pumps are designed specifically for microfluidic systems and suited for the production of highly monodisperse droplets for different sectors, such agrochemicals, pharma, drug delivery and biomedicine. Typical applications include the generation of emulsions, capture of single or multiple cells in monodisperse droplets, and the production of polymer beads and hydrogel particles. Mitos P-Pumps also offer flexibility for single chips and process scaleup, accommodating a wide range of standard and non-standard vessels, from millilitres to litres. The pumps can be integrated with Telos high throughput droplet manufacture systems to enable up to a tonne of highly monodisperse droplets, particles or emulsions per month. www.jmscience.com
Plates Deliver HighPerformance Filtration
ISOLUTE FILTER+ plates deliver high performance filtration of diverse biological samples and are suitable for use with urine prepared by “dilute and shoot” prior to UPLC-MS/ MS analysis. Each plate contains a 0.2 µm membrane filter for particulate removal, topped by a depth filter to prevent blocking of the membrane. The new plates are designed to prevent sample particulates from reaching the UPLC column, protecting the analytical system from particulate build up over time. Additionally, the filtration membrane is wettable, eliminating the need for pre-wetting, and narrow plate outlets direct sample flow into the collection plate without sputtering, eliminating cross talk between samples. Typically, sample volumes of up to 1,500 µL (total volume) can be processed using this product. www.biotage.com
ReachBio Research Labs Offers New NK Cells Optimized for ADCC Assays online
In May, ReachBio Research Labs, a Clinical Research Organization specializing in primary cell assay services and products began offering sourced, enriched and tested primary natural killer (V158+) cells from normal and healthy donors to facilitate better antibody research through ADCC assays. A process called antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) kills targeted tumour cells. Studying this process pre-clinically, in vitro ADCC assays utilize an important effector cell, the natural killer (NK) cell. The ability of NK cells to bind monoclonal antibodies that selectively target tumor cells for killing is considered to be important to the efficacy of the therapeutic monoclonal antibody in ADCC assays. www.reachbio.com
Lab WARE MilliporeSigma Launches Industry's First Off-the-Shelf Cell Culture Media
MilliporeSigma says its EX-CELL Advanced HD Perfusion Medium is the first off-the-shelf, high-density cell culture media that supports perfusion processes and facilitates high productivity at low perfusion rates, increasing production yield and speed to clinic. Fed-batch has been the primary mammalian cell cultivation mode for biopharma manufacturing over the past few decades, however, Perfusion technology is compatible with small portable plants and can be used with many drug types over a range of production scales. The new perfusion medium meets the next generation in manufacturing, the company says. www.emdgroup.com
Titrator Allows Instant Recall of 20 Samples
JM Scienceâ€™s AQUACOUNTER Coulmetric AQ-300 KF Titrator can been used in the biofuels industry including applications in biodiesel, glycerin, reclaimed methanol, and jet fuel. The titrator determines moisture quickly and accurately down to 1ppm with an injection of the sample and a built-in detector monitors the titration status. Additionally, four files with present conditions can be stored in memory and allows instant recall of data for up to 20 samples. The results may be printed on an optional printer, downloaded to a laptop or desktop PC with included software. www.jmscience.com
Downstream Bioprocessing Peristaltic Pump is Single-Use
Watson Marlow Fluid Technology Groupâ€™s new Quantum Peristaltic pump is patented with ReNu single-use cartridge technology. It sets the new standard for high-pressure feed pumps in SU tangential flow filtration (TFF), virus filtration (VF), and high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Quantum represents a change in pump technology for bioprocessing by enabling higher downstream process yields throughout the pressure range, which delivers virtually pulse free linear flow with shear and validation aligned with Biophorum Operations Group (BPOG) guidelines. Quantum delivers high accuracy with flow linearity independent of back-pressure, which removes the need for flow meters and load cells. Additionally, the product is ultra-low shear, which increases product viability to help maximize process yield. Moreover, the Quantum pump enables its aseptic fluid paths to be positioned quickly and accurately ready for use. www.watson-marlow.com/gb-en
Portable USB Data Logger has Large Storage Capacity
OMEGA introduces the OM-140 Series of portable USB data loggers that measure and record ambient temperatures and relative humidity of an environment for days, weeks or months at a time. The large storage capacity can record up to 16,000 pairs of temp/RH readings, supported by a long battery life. One start/stop button is used and takes measurements without the need for a computer on the job site. To view the captured data as a .txt file, the USB 2.0 interface can be inputted into a PC and played with no extra cables, cradles or docks are required. www.omega.ca
May/June 2017 Lab Business
LIST OF ADVERTISERS & WEBSITES Bio-Rad
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Moments in time
The Half-Seed Method
n 1958, Richard Keith Downey was appointed the principal research scientist for oilseed crop breeding at Agriculture Canadaâ€™s research station in Saskatoon, where he developed a new method for partitioning canola seeds. Canola is an edible and high protein crop used worldwide for cooking oil and livestock feed. The new method gave scientists the ability to let one half of the seed to germinate while they tested the other half for nutritional composition. Downey and his team were able to analyze the half-seed using Gas-Liquid Chromatography (GLC) and select desirable traits for the next generation from the remaining partitioned half. The so-called half-seed method and GLC technology allowed Downey to develop 18 different varieties of canola and five varieties of condiment mustard.
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