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David Suzuki Global warnings

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The Definitive Source For Lab Products, News And Developments

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Arctic hub for atmospheric research known worldwide

January/February 2018

Screening antibodies for rapid drug discovery

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Multi-Test Cell Culture Analyzer with Maintenance-Free Sensors Four Optional Modules— Up to 16 Tests:

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CONTENTS 9

Prized PEARL

Global Warning By David Suzuki

By Brendan M. Lynch

By Alexander McCleave

We need to adopt a sense of urgency when it comes to environmental change.

Recently published paper outlines a new method of screening for therapeutic discovery.

Take a tour of the lab that is Canada’s hub for atmospheric research in the Arctic.

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standards editor’s note 5 Canadian news 6 worldwide news 7 Lab ware 21 moments in time 23

Screening Antibodies

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Do the flip!

Learn more about petroleum-eating bacteria and arctic oil spills.

company profile A Brazilian biotech chooses Canada for expansion 15

Global warnings

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newsmaker

Caitlin Miron awarded for DNA binder research 20

Application Note

David Suzuki The DefiniTive Source for Lab ProDucTS, newS anD DeveLoPmenTS

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PEARLs

January/February 2018

moments in time Ian Stirling makes mark on arctic research 23

jANuAry/feBruAry 2018

Screening antibodies for rapid drug discovery

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Championing the Business of Biotechnology in Canada

of Wisdom

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suzuki matters

on twitter at @biolabmag a

Arctic hub for atmospheric research known worldwide

january/february 2018

into the Future

»

As shipping through Arctic waters increases, scientists race to study how to deal with catastrophe

On the Web at www.labbusinessmag.com

@

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Celebrating In 1971, Doug Brock recognized the need for manufactured high purity solvents. He started Caledon Labs with just a few products, and the goal of becoming a leader in the laboratory chemical industry. Facility: We have grown from an 800 square foot building to a 20,000 square foot manufacturing facility. Products: We now provide a wide selection of chemicals, as well as offering custom manufacturing capabilities. People: Our most valuable asset many employees have been with us for over 25 years. Quality: A superior standard of quality that our customers have come to expect. At Caledon, we have built our success on our basic values of Trust, Quality, Service and Delivery. We invite you to experience the Caledon Difference, and allow us to be part of your success story.

Trust. Quality. Service. Delivery.

Caledon Laboratories 40 Armstrong Avenue Georgetown, ON L7G 4R9 Canada T 877.225.3366 E service@caledonlabs.com


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Innovation Influx R

ecently, the federal government announced it is investing up to $950 million under the Innovation Superclusters Initiative, something it says positions Canada for an innovation boom in high-growth sectors such as AI. The investment, which will be matched by the private sector, is expected to create more than 50,000 middle-class jobs and grow Canada’s economy by $50 billion over the next 10 years. In 2017, the government called on business to collaborate with other groups, including post secondary and research institutions, to propose bold and ambitious strategies that would transform regional economies and develop jobcreating superclusters of innovation – much like Silicon Valley. The five superclusters are: • The Ocean Supercluster (based in Atlantic Canada) will use innovation to improve competitiveness in Canada’s ocean-based industries, including fisheries, oil and gas, and clean energy; • The SCALE.AI Supercluster (based in Quebec) will make Canada a worldleading exporter by building intelligent supply chains through artificial intelligence and robotics; • The Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster (based in Ontario) will connect Canada’s technology strengths to our manufacturing industry to make us a world manufacturing leader in the economy of tomorrow; • The Protein Industries Supercluster (based in the Prairies) will make Canada a leading source for plant proteins and help feed the world; • The Digital Technology Supercluster (based in BC) will use big data and digital technologies to unlock new potential in important sectors like healthcare, forestry, and manufacturing. The superclusters cover the depth and breadth of the Canadian economy, as well as all of the regions of this vast country. And all five of the superclusters will require science and partnerships with laboratories and biotechs across the country to research, test and commercialize ideas and products. Indeed, national industry association, BIOTECanada, welcomed the announcement. “The value of these superclusters will be in promoting research, creating high-quality jobs and economic advances when industry will work with numerous partners,” said Andrew Casey, President and CEO in a statement. “The recognition from the federal government is encouraging to Canadian biotech companies who are bringing innovations to agriculture, creating new sources of energy and industrial applications, and reducing the environmental footprint of existing manufacturing and industrial processes.” Theresa Rogers executive Editor

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Canadian NEWS New Tools for Canadian Researchers

The federal government, through the Canada Foundation for Innovation, is investing $13 million in new labs, equipment and research at the Université de Sherbrooke and $280,000 in social sciences and humanities research at Bishop’s University. The investments will help scientists and researchers develop groundbreaking projects and will also help them build stronger partnerships with the private and not-for-profit sectors, improving the well-being of Canadians in cities, towns and rural areas across the country.

SQI Signs Agreement with a Global Biotechnology Company

SQI Diagnostics announced a partnership with a global biotechnology company to provide assay development and future sample testing and analysis services. The customer has contracted test development to SQI to create an immunogenicity assay utilizing SQI's multiplexing technology. After completing test development, SQI anticipates it will be engaged to provide contract research services to provide analytical sample testing. The testing will be done at SQI's facility in Toronto.

Research on Sustainability in the Egg Industry Receives Support from NSERC

Dr. Nathan Pelletier, a Canadian expert in sustainability, has been awarded a prestigious Industrial Research Chair by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). The award will advance Pelletier's research activities focused on sustainability measurement and management, lifecycle thinking and resource efficiency, with a focus on the Canadian egg industry. Since 2016, Pelletier has collaborated with Egg Farmers of Canada, exploring opportunities to improve resource efficiencies and reduce the environmental impact of egg supply chains.

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January/February 2018 Lab Business

Brock Researchers Create Groundbreaking DNA Reader for Disease Detection

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chemist and a parasite expert  at Brock University have teamed up to produce and test out a simple device that can detect diseases from DNA samples. It’s a scaled-down version of what is normally an ex pensive a nd complicated DNA laboratory technique, yet it’s fast, inexpensive and accurate, making it ideal for use in developing countries. Brock University Assistant Professor of Chemistry Feng Li’s device consists of a strip of paper attached onto a glass slide. The paper contains several rows of what look like thermometers, lines with markings projecting out of bulb-like circles. DNA samples are loaded onto the circles and move up the lines, much like mercury rises in a thermometer. “Different concentrations of the genetic disease biomarkers in the samples would migrate different distances,” says Li. “So, all you need to do is read the distance they penetrate, just like you’d read a ruler.” Known as the quantitative paper-based DNA reader, each device costs only about 10 cents. They work with a scaled-down version of a traditionally expensive and complex DNA laboratory technique known as polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The PCR technique normally requires highly specialized equipment and expensive molecular probes. But Li’s device is able to read DNA samples through a PCR technique using simple technology and low-cost chemicals. “This is going to be extremely useful in resource-limited settings where you don’t have a lot of facilities to interpret the results,” says Li. One such setting is the National Autonomous University of Honduras, where Brock University Professor of Health Sciences Ana Sanchez runs an internationally renowned research program focusing on parasites. She and her research team collected worms that had been expelled by children suspected of having soil-transmitted helminth infection, a disease affecting about 1.5 billion people worldwide and a major cause of childhood malnutrition and physical impairment. The researchers used the quantitative paper-based DNA reader to test the worms for helminth infection. “The results are beautiful; there’s no doubt that the system works,” says Sanchez. She applauds the speed and sensitivity of the device, saying that diagnostic techniques in developing countries are traditional, basic and rely on the expertise of the person observing the sample. Sanchez says the device goes beyond just a yes or no result by measuring the amount of genetic disease biomarkers in the DNA sample. “How many parasites is this child harbouring?” she says. “That tells you maybe their immune response and nutrition are impaired, that we’d need to consider if treatment needs to be ramped up, even if there could be a possibility of parasitic resistance.” The research team’s results in their study “Paper-Based DNA Reader for Visualized Quantification of Soil-Transmitted Helminth Infections” were published in ACS Sensors. Watch video of the DNA reader at youtu.be/9grDcimeido.


Worldwide NEWS

The Salk Institute and Indivumed Partner to Advance Global Cancer Research

Chemistry Industry Innovators Gather in Germany

Photo credit: The Salk Institute

New Cancer Diagnostic Blood Test Highly Accurate in Detecting Colorectal Cancer

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he Salk Institute, which hosts a National Cancer Institute (NCI) – designated cancer centre and Indivumed GmbH, a world leading cancer research company, announced a multi-year strategic alliance to secure, preserve and analyze human cancer tissue and annotated clinical data from consenting patients around the world, enabling the most cutting-edge basic and translational research in cancer. “Over the past 30 years, researchers at the Salk Cancer Center have made some of the most important contributions to the fundamental understanding of cancer,” says Hartmut Juhl, Founder and CEO of Indivumed. “The opportunity for Indivumed to partner with the Salk Cancer Center is an honor which is among the most meaningful of Indivumed’s accomplishments over its 15-year history.” Juhl adds, “I have dedicated my professional life to pursuing research excellence and providing the assets and resources necessary to advance our understanding of cancer on an individual basis. The bedrock to the most impactful research is comprised of pristine and unbiased data. The combination of Indivumed’s molecular and phenotypic data sets with cutting edge basic and translation research coined within the Salk Cancer Center will combine to create one of the world’s most unique research engines.” Reuben Shaw, PhD, Director of the Salk Cancer Center and world-renowned cancer researcher described the potential for the Indivumed collaboration as “one of the most exciting partnerships we are pursuing.” Shaw says, “gene expression, metabolite, and protein modification are difficult – if not impossible – to compare if biospecimens have not been collected and corresponding data have not been documented in a consistent manner. Indivumed’s controlled and rapid tissue processing will help delineate important biological differences between patient tumors.” Shaw continues, “providing our researchers with this type of platinum research resource will have a transformational impact on our research and ultimately our understanding of cancer.” Salk and Indivumed have signed agreements, for which the financial terms were not disclosed, that provide for the following: 1) Indivumed shall provided dedicated resources to assist Salk Cancer Center researchers in planning for and acquiring the appropriate annotated cancer biospecimens to support specific basic and translational research projects; 2) The Salk Cancer Center and Indivumed will develop a portfolio of collaborative research projects, where both organizations will contribute resources and effort to advance shared research interests and the development of a global cancer database of molecular and phenotypic data sets. “Our mission at Salk is to ignite a fuse that will catalyze basic and translational science, and our researchers create the foundation on which clinical innovation is built,” says Salk President Elizabeth Blackburn. “We feel very fortunate to partner with Indivumed to forge together the research that will unravel the molecular secrets of cancer.”

Following the success of the first event in 2017, the 2nd European Chemistry Partnering on February 23 will be on a much larger scale. Organizers expect more than 500 decision-makers from the chemical industry and its user industries and 27 countries are already represented. One-third of participants come from chemistry start-ups. The share of innovative industrial enterprises amounts to 80 per cent, from startups to mid-sized companies to large enterprises and corporations.

CellMax Life, a cancer diagnostics company enabling early cancer detection and management with globally affordable non-invasive blood tests, announced results from a new study showing that its circulating tumor cell blood test, based on its proprietary CMxTM platform, can detect colorectal cancer at an early stage – and in many cases, precancerous lesions – with accuracy ranging from 84 to 88 per cent. The test could potentially be offered at less than $150, enabling high compliance and global adoption.

Siemens Healthineers Closes Fast Track Diagnostics Acquisition Siemens Healthineers has completed its acquisition of Fast Track Diagnostics (FTD). The closing of the deal occurred on December 19, 2017, expanding the Siemens Healthineers molecular diagnostics portfolio and underscoring the company’s commitment to this designated growth area. FTD’s platform-agnostic menu allows Siemens Healthineers to effectively serve a broader customer base. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. FTD will continue to operate under the brand name Fast Track Diagnostics throughout the world.

www.labbusinessmag.com

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Suzuki MATTERS

By David Suzuki with contributions from Ian Hanington

We ignore urgent global warnings

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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.

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at our peril

year ago, we revisited the 1992 “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity.” Signed  by a majority of Nobel laureates in sciences at the time and more than 1,700 leading scientists worldwide, the document warned, “Human beings and the natural world are on a collision course.” It called for a new ethic that encompasses our responsibility to ourselves and nature and that recognizes our dependence on Earth and its natural systems. It also called for stabilizing human population through “improved social and economic conditions, and the adoption of effective, voluntary family planning.” Now, 25 years later, we’ve added two billion people, a 35 per cent increase. Despite progress in stabilizing the stratospheric ozone layer, all the other problems scientists looked at in 1992 have worsened. On the declaration’s 25th anniversary in November, more than 15,000 scientists from around the world signed a new warning – “the most scientists to ever co-sign and formally support a published journal article.” The BioScience article states, “By failing to adequately limit population growth, reassess the role of an economy rooted in growth, reduce greenhouse gases, incentivize renewable energy, protect habitat, restore ecosystems, curb pollution, halt defaunation, and constrain invasive alien species, humanity is not taking the urgent steps needed to safeguard our imperilled biosphere.” It raises concerns about climate change, driven by greenhouse gas emissions from “burning fossil fuels, deforestation, and agricultural production – particularly from farming ruminants for meat consumption.” And it points out, “we have unleashed a mass extinction event, the sixth in roughly 540 million years, wherein many current life forms could be annihilated or at least committed to extinction by the end of this century.” Some have criticized the warning for being overly alarmist, but the situation is alarming, and we aren’t doing enough to avert catastrophe. Where will we be

January/February 2018 Lab Business

25 years from now? It won’t be chance that determines our future. It will be the choices we make today. There’s a hint of hope. The scientists note that co-operative government actions resulted in a “rapid global decline in ozone-depleting substances,” and that global poverty and hunger rates have dropped. Investing in education for girls and women has contributed to falling birth rates in many regions, deforestation has been reduced in some countries, and the renewable-energy sector has been growing rapidly. We can make positive changes if we co-operate, but it will take action from all of humanity. We can’t leave it to governments, especially as so many in thrall to the fossil fuel industry are failing to work for citizens. As the scientists argue, “Sustainability transitions come about in diverse ways, and all require civil-society pressure and evidence-based advocacy, political leadership, and a solid understanding of policy instruments, markets, and other drivers.” The warning offers many solutions, many policybased. They include protecting habitat on land, water and air; recognizing and maintaining the important services intact ecosystems provide; restoring forests and other “native plant communities”; re-introducing native species “to restore ecological processes and dynamics”; using policy to protect species from poaching and illegal trade; reducing food waste and promoting a shift to more plant-based diets; reducing fertility rates through “access to education and voluntary family-planning services”; promoting nature education and appreciation; shifting investment and spending to “encourage positive environmental change”; fostering advances in green technologies and renewable energy while eliminating subsidies to fossil fuels; altering the economy to reduce wealth inequality “and ensure that prices, taxation, and incentive systems take into account the real costs which consumption patterns impose on our environment”; and “estimating a scientifically defensible, sustainable human population size for the long term while rallying nations and leaders to support that vital goal.” In short, if we take the urgency to heart, there are solutions. Although government action and policy are crucial, so too is citizen engagement. “With a groundswell of organized grassroots efforts, dogged opposition can be overcome and political leaders compelled to do the right thing. It’s also time to re-examine and change our individual behaviors, including limiting our own reproduction (ideally to replacement level at most) and drastically diminishing our per capita-consumption of fossil fuels, meat, and other resources.” As a new year begins, we can and must do everything possible to shift course. If we wait another 25 years, it will be too late. LB


Lab PROFILE

THE (RAREST) JEWEL IN THE ARCTIC PEARL monitors the world’s changing environment and plays host to international scientists

story by

Alexander McCleave

www.labbusinessmag.com

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Lab PROFILE

I

magine that you are an arctic researcher and you’re about to go as far north as it is possible for a civilian to go in Canada. It is so far north that, depending on the time of year, there are 24-hour days and 24-hour nights. The weather fluctuates dramatically, with temperatures exceeding -40 C in the winter, and any exposed skin is soon susceptible to frostbite. You have boarded a charter plane to a weather station called Eureka, in the province of Nunavut, and from there you continue another 15 kilometers north on Ellesmere Island. Here ends your journey; you have arrived at the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL), a facility that is part of the Canadian Network for the Detection of Atmospheric Change (CANDAC). PEARL, as Canada’s closest universitybased year-round research facility to the North Pole, is a hub for atmospheric research in the Arctic, both for Canadian researchers and international scientists. The PEARL Ridge Laboratory was first built in 1992 on a site chosen by Environment Canada, to study the stratospheric ozone. The facility was developed during the early years of the Montreal Protocol, a global agreement to protect the stratospheric ozone layer by phasing out the production and consumption of ozone depleting substances. PEARL was also meant to serve as a convenient location from which to study the polar vortex, a large area of low pressure and cold air surrounding both the North and South Poles.

Researchers wanted to better understand why the polar vortex expands, sending cold air southward into areas that are not typically cold. Since PEARL’s inception, its mandate has expanded to include three main areas: air quality, ozone levels and climate change.

Getting to work A lot of work at PEARL can be done remotely, says James Drummond, Professor of Physics and Atmosphere Science at Dalhousie University, Research Chair in Remote Sounding of Atmosphere, and principal investigator at CANDAC. “We use an internet connection so that we can still run instruments from almost anywhere,” Drummond says. A rotation of operators, to oversee equipment and in case of emergency, is the only permanent presence at PEARL. In addition, large groups of researchers will travel to PEARL for what are referred to as “major campaigns”, which can range from two weeks to a month. “The Polar Sunrise campaign will begin February 24, 2018, and another campaign is taking place in the summer of 2018,” says Pierre Fogal, Site Manager at PEARL and a Senior Research Associate at University of Toronto Department of Physics. The lengths of the trips are based on the idea that no person or group of people should be left separated or in isolation at the facility too long. “When we go up there, we go up there with an intensive schedule in mind,” Fogal says. “The campaigns are often quite draining on the researchers. Working, often in extreme cold, sixand-a-half

Opposite page: Left: Rebecca Batchelor, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto, checks the alignment of the suntracker on the roof of the Ridge Lab of PEARL. Photo credit: Ashley Harrett, 2008 Top right: First measurements of the CIMEL sunphotometer at the Ridge Lab of PEARL, in Eureka, Nunavut. Photo credit: Ovidiu Pancrati, 2007 Middle: Ridge Lab. Photo credit: Paul Loewen, 2007 Bottom: Ovidiu Pancrati, postdoctoral fellow at the Université de Sherbrooke, working on the alignment of a CIMEL sunphotometer. Photo credit: Paul Loewen, 2007

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January/February 2018 Lab Business


Lab PROFILE

The world’s closest research facility to the North Pole

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Lab PROFILE days a week, you can only do that and be effective so long.” During the time that they spend at the PEARL facility, the researchers follow a tightly packed schedule. “We’ll meet at breakfast to discuss the plans for the day,” Fogal says. “From there we’ll split up and go off to different sites, because we have three locations to monitor.” The crew of researchers will prepare readings from the different equipment they have set up and monitor for the entire day. “As soon as the sun rises, the work begins and the work continues till sundown,” Fogal says. Little time is wasted due to the limited amount of time the researchers are at the facility. Fifteen kilometres from the main station near the PEARL facility is the Safe Hut, which can function independently from the main building in emergency situations, which might require evacuation of the main laboratory. Its main purpose is to protect the researchers while making it possible for them to survive until help arrives. “The facility has everything to properly house the researchers,” Fogal says. The building is checked every time researchers arrive at PEARL on a campaign as a precautionary measure, but “the Safe Hut has never been used,” Drummond says. “We’ve never had to use it and we like it that way.” With so much research being done in one facility, there tends to be quite a lot of equipment. The facility uses a variety of ozone sensors, spectrometers – including an aerosol mass spectrometer and a Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy – and LiDARs. The aerosol mass spectrometer, an instrument that measures particle mass, was one of the first pieces of equipment the facility ever owned. With the use of the aerosol mass spectrometer, researchers are able to determine air quality and detect different levels of pollution. “It sucks in the air from the outside and then breaks particles apart into smaller bits,” Fogal says.

Top left: The 10-metre flux tower, located near the SAFIRE site at PEARL, hosts a variety of instruments that measure up- and down-welling radiation as well as temperatures and wind speeds. Photo credit: Paul Loewen, 2011 Bottom left: Removing frost from the instruments on the flux tower located near the Surface and Atmospheric Flux and IRradiance Extension (SAFIRE) facility at PEARL. Photo Credit: Pierre Fogal, 2008 Bottom right: Ridge Lab. Photo credit: Paul Loewen, 2007 Middle right: Installation of a CIMEL sunphotometer at the Ridge Lab of PEARL. Photo credit: Ovidiu Pancrati, 2007

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January/February 2018 Lab Business


Lab PROFILE

“The facility has everything to properly house the researchers.” – Pierre Fogal, Site Manager at PEARL, University of Toronto Professor, Department of Physics

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Lab PROFILE

“Everyone wants to know how the lab is doing because the data from the lab is used worldwide.” – James Drummond, Professor of Physics and Atmosphere Science, Dalhousie University

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January/February 2018 Lab Business


Lab PROFILE

“It accelerates those into a quadruple mass spectrometer and then detects their composition.” Contrary to popular belief that the air quality in the Arctic is pristine due to its isolated location, the reality is that the region is as affected by pollution as anywhere else. “A lot of it is due to industrial activity in northern Europe and Russia, or even from forest fires,” Drummond says. PEARL’s Fourier-transform infrared spectrometer helps to measure infrared radiation emitted by the sun. “In particular we measure which parts of the sunlight are absorbed by the atmosphere,” Fogal says. “With the use of spectrometers we measure the amount of concentration of chemicals such as ozone, carbon dioxide, and other gases that are found in the atmosphere.”

Funding arctic research PEARL’s funding comes from a variety of sources, but the majority of it is from the federal government via the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. “We had a lot of in-kind support from Environment and Climate Change Canada,” Drummond says. “We also get funding from the Canadian Space Agency, because we do a lot of work associated with satellites.” The expenses associated with conducting research

in the Arctic, such as fuel costs and charter planes, are always increasing, Drummond says. Funding levels for PEARL are adequate for now, though he says they could certainly do with more. “We’re not anywhere near the potential of the facility.” An increase in funding would help with new and existing projects that PEARL is undertaking in 2018. “We have a drone that we would like to see whether we can use for some particular measurements,” Drummond says. “Running a drone in those conditions is challenging.” One of PEARL’s many contributions is its hand in training young researches and scientists. Scientists and researchers come from all over the world to study and learn at the facility. “Our students go on [to work] in the government, academia, industry and it’s [because of ] the kind of training they got here at PEARL,” Drummond says. With climate change becoming an ever more pressing issue, facilities like PEARL contribute to valuable, in-depth research on the subject. “At international conferences, everyone wants to know how the lab is doing because the data from the lab is used worldwide,” Drummond says. “If we ever lose that facility, it will be very hard to get anything like that back. PEARL is truly unique.” LB

Top left: The Zero altitude PEARL Auxilliary Laboratory (ØPAL) in Eureka, Nunavut. Photo credit: Paul Loewen, 2007

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Application NOTE

Breakthrough Enables Screening

Millions of Human Antibodies for New Drug Discovery

story by

Brendan M. Lynch

These technologies are providing a new window on human immune protection that we have never been able to see before. – Brandon DeKosky, Assistant Professor of Chemical & Petroleum Engineering and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of Kansas

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January/February 2018 Lab Business

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paper just published in Nature Biotechnology outlines a pioneering method of screening a person’s diverse set of  antibodies for rapid therapeutic discovery. Antibody proteins are an important part of the human immune system that specifically target foreign viruses and bacteria, and they have been the fastest-growing class of approved drugs in the past several decades. The new techniques made it easier to discover new antibody drug molecules while also learning more about immune responses to vaccines and infections. These advances could lead to better preventions and treatments of diseases like Ebola, HIV, flu and Epstein-Barr virus. “These technologies are providing a new window on human immune protection that we have never been able to see before,” says co-lead author Brandon DeKosky, Assistant Professor of Chemical & Petroleum Engineering and Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the University of Kansas (KU). “They will dramatically accelerate antibody drug development and may also lead to more effective vaccines.” DeKosky says key innovations set the stage for this new


Application NOTE

Student researchers at KU operate the custom equipment for large-scale genetic analysis of single cells. Photo Credit: Kelly Tong

research, including the development of protein display systems in the 1990s, improvements to antibody discovery beginning in the 2000s and the development of technologies to identify natively paired antibody sequences in the 2010s. The new paper combines advances in these three technical areas in an entirely new way to achieve large-scale antibody analysis and screening, resulting in several new and highly potent antibodies in the process. With co-authors including Bo Wang, Andy Ellington and George Georgiou at the University of Texas-Austin and Morgan Timm, Nancy Sullivan and John Mascola at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), DeKosky has developed a technology to screen millions of human B cells to rapidly identify the antiviral antibodies that they contain. “Antibody molecules are encoded by B cells and are assembled from two different genes, called the heavy and light chains,” DeKosky says. “The VH and VL portions – derived from the heavy and light chains, respectively – are the sections of an antibody gene that provide specific viral targeting. So, the VH and VL portions are the most important region to focus on for antibody screening and discovery.” Previous efforts in antibody discovery often relied on single-cell cloning, which led to dozens of experimental or approved drug therapies. However, single-cell cloning holds several major drawbacks because of its very high

Antibody proteins Are an important part of the human immune system that specifically target foreign viruses and bacteria. Have been the fastest-growing class of approved drugs in the past several decades.

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Application NOTE

costs and is limited to sampling a tiny fraction of the human antibody inventory. “Because antibodies are derived from two different genes – both of which are highly variable and contained within a single B cell – we need to perform single-cell manipulations en masse to recover the set of complete antibody genes,” DeKosky says. “Traditional single-cell cloning is very expensive and time-consuming. The methods described here overcome those limitations and make it possible to screen millions of antibody-producing cells in a single experiment at an academic lab.” Limitations of previous approaches were a major motivating factor leading to the development of the new technology for screening native antibody libraries. “Non-natural gene pairing has been used in the past because it’s so much easier to do, but often the quality of antibodies discovered is not good enough for an effective drug, and the synthetic nature of those antibodies makes it difficult to understand the true human immune response,” DeKosky says. “By maintaining native antibody gene pairings throughout our process, we identified antibodies as they occurred naturally. Along the way, we found extremely potent antibodies and learned more about the human immune response to vaccination and natural infection.” Researchers next will apply this new platform technology to find additional promising antibodies that could serve as the basis for drug therapies. “Our major motivation was to be able to understand human antibody responses in great detail, which is critical for new therapeutic drug discovery and for vaccine design,” DeKosky says. “Promising sources to discover new antibodies include donated blood samples from HIV patients with powerful immune responses against the virus, and also individuals who have received vaccines so that we can understand how

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January/February 2018 Lab Business

Because antibodies are derived from two different genes – both of which are highly variable and contained within a single B cell – we need to perform single-cell manipulations en masse to recover the set of complete antibody genes. – Brandon DeKosky, Assistant Professor of Chemical & Petroleum Engineering and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of Kansas


Application NOTE

Above left: University of Kansas Assistant Professor Brandon DeKosky (centre left) and graduate student trainees Rukmini Ladi, Bailey Banach and Ahmed Fahad. Photo credit: André Faucher. Above right: DeKosky lab members Natalie Bui, undergraduate summer student, and Tiffany Nguyen, post-doctoral researcher, measure DNA in a sample. Photo credit: Kelly Tong those vaccines are working. When a potently neutralizing antibody is discovered, it can lead to new vaccine strategies and new therapeutic drug candidates.” Multiple grants and contracts supported the work, including the National Institutes of Health, the intramural research program of the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Leidos Biomedical Research Inc. and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. DeKosky says a large number of students and research trainees were involved in this project, including at UT-Austin, NIH and KU. “This is a prime example of the synergy between academic research and scientific training, where trainees learn by contributing to a larger scientific project,” he says. “This project was several years in the making, and many undergraduates, grad students and postdocs involved have now transitioned to the next stage of their career. Each of us has brought those new skills and ideas along as we transition to different places.” The KU researcher says these technologies are being applied for drug discovery against a broad range of disease targets in academia, government and the private sector. “In my lab, we are continuing to develop and improve these systems, and also apply them to learn more about immune responses and discover new therapeutics,” DeKosky says. “We are extremely excited to apply the technology to a host of exciting research problems here at KU – so stay tuned!” LB

“This is a prime example of the synergy between academic research and scientific training, where trainees learn by contributing to a larger scientific project,” he says. – Brandon DeKosky, Assistant Professor of Chemical & Petroleum Engineering and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of Kansas

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E 166 TITRISCOPE, 1949

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Lab WARE

Automated Cell Culture Analyzer Provides a Total Picture of Cell Growth

The BioProfile FLEX2 analyzer provides immediate measurement of key chemistries, gases, cell density/viability, and osmolality in cell culture media to provide a total picture of cell growth in a single instrument. BioProfile analyzers feature simultaneous measurement of up to 16 key parameters including: pH, Gluc, Lac, Glu, Gln, PO2, PCO2, NH4+, Na, K, Ca, total cell density, viable cell density, % viability, cell diameter and osmolality. The analyzers feature 11 chemistry tests with maintenance-free sensor card technology; a full 16-test profile in four minutes; and 265-μL sample size for the full test menu. www.novabiomedical.com

Intuitive Software Improves Data Mining and Analysis

Shimadzu Scientific Instruments released its next-generation LabSolutions Insight software for LC/MS/ MS and GC/MS (/MS) analysis. With intuitive operation and an advanced peak detection algorithm, the software supports review-by-exception to improve the speed and efficiency of multi-analyte data analysis. It can also be used for easy analysis of clinical toxicological compounds, pesticides, forensic toxicological substances, and environmental pollutants. For comparing and reviewing large amounts of data, LabSolutions Insight displays reference chromatograms overlaid with sample chromatograms, so that analysts can intuitively confirm the peak intensity and area for large numbers of chromatograms. www.www.ssi.shimadzu.com

Pulsatile Blood Pump Aids Cardiovascular Research

Advanced Breath Actuation Controller Provides Flow Control for MDI Applications

Copley Scientific has launched the BAC 2100, an advanced Breath Actuation Controller to help automate flow control when testing metered dose inhalers (MDIs) for delivered dose uniformity and aerodynamic particle size distribution. The BAC 2100, which replaces its predecessor, the BAC 2000, provides flow control for a range of MDI applications, including a time delay feature for the actuation of MDIs when used with spacers and valved holding chambers. Advanced features include a fully automated in situ cascade impactor leak testing function and extensive data reporting capabilities, with the choice of outputting data to a printer or computer. Test duration is calculated automatically from the required flow volume – typically 2 litres in the case of MDIs –based on the measured flow rate, derived from a connected flow meter. The menu system has further been enhanced to guide the user through the required steps to ensure consistency and error free completion of the test method. www.copleyscientific.com

The Harvard Apparatus Pulsatile Blood Pump closely mimicks the ventricular action of the heart and is ideal for cardiovascular studies. The pump provides physiological advantages for perfusion, blood transfers, blood cellular profile studies and so on. The positive piston action prevents changes in flow rates, overcoming any variations in resistance or back pressure. External control interfaces allow for the generation of advanced waveforms and increased control over pressure curves. Key features include minimal hemolysis and models that are available for mice to large animals. It is also ideal for moving emulsions, suspensions and non-Newtonian fluids. www.harvardapparatus.com

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Lab WARE Scanning Electron Microscope Offers Modular Platform for Intuitive Operation

ZEISS introduced a new generation of its high performance scanning electron microscope with improvements in usability, image quality and seamless integration into multimodal workflows. With its comprehensive range of available options, the ZEISS EVO family can be tailored precisely to requirements in life sciences, material sciences or routine industrial quality assurance. ZEISS EVO delivers high quality data – even with difficult requirements – and offers various vacuum modes, such as high vacuum, variable pressure and high pressure, as well as different detector technologies. An optional lanthanum hexaboride (LaB6) emitter also delivers more beam brightness for superior image resolution and noise reduction. www.zeiss.com

Flexicon PF7 Reduces Risk of Costly Filling Errors

Watson-Marlow Fluid Technology Group has unveiled the Flexicon PF7 peristaltic tabletop aseptic liquid filling machine, optimised for operation in GMP regulated industries such as biotechnology, pharmaceutical and diagnostics. The PF7 is designed to work with single-use fluid paths such as asepticsu, thus removing any risk of cross contamination. Changing the fluid path can also be achieved in less than 60 seconds. The PF7 comes programmed with recommended filling parameters based on Flexicon’s 30 years of experience. Users can adapt filling parameters to achieve optimum accuracy for their application needs and up to 200 user programmable ‘recipes’ can be stored and password protected for future use. The PF7 has been developed specifically for the filling of high value sensitive fluids in GMP production and cleanroom environments. The machine offers repeatable filling of volumes from as low as 0.2ml up to 250ml, with accuracy better than ±0.5%, to prevent costly overfilling. www.wmftg.com

Tensiometer Offers Software Upgrade and Temperature Control Up to 300 C KRÜSS recently announced an updated version of their Force Tensiometer – K100 with their new ADVANCE software, which displays the logical workflow of scientific measurements on an intuitive user interface. The broad scope of methods offered by the K100 includes completely automated CMC measurement and processes for characterization of the wettability of solids and powders right up to the determination of their surface free energy. An additional novelty in the K100 consists of two powerful temperature control units for different ranges. The Temperature Control Unit – TJ50 exploits the Peltier effect for tensiometric measurements between -15 and 130 C. The unit rapidly reaches the target temperature and keeps it stable due to insulation. The electrically heated temperature control unit TJ60, which quickly and reliably reaches target temperatures of up to 300 C, opens up new tensiometric fields of work. www.kruss-scientific.com

Flexible Film Isolator Aims to Redefine Glove Bags

The Purair FLEX is a flexible, highly portable film isolator that delivers superior containment capability. Constructed of ArmorFlex film, the Purair Flex offers complete visual clarity and excellent solvent resistance across a range of chemicals as confirmed by independent product testing. Other features include: a double O-ring design on the standard polyurethane cuffs which allows users to quickly and easily change gloves to meet a variety of dexterity needs; semi-rigid support rods, which make the Purair Flex easy to set up and stable, even if the bag is not inflated to full pressure; and multiple safety options, such as HEPA filter availability, Bag-in/Bag-out Port, and optional Nitrogen purge inlet connections. www.airscience.com/purair-flex-portable-isolators

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January/February 2018 Lab Business

LIST OF ADVERTISERS & WEBSITES Nova Biomedical

Page 2 ...........................................www.novabiomedical.com

Caledon Laboratory Chemicals

Page 4 ................................................... www.caledonlabs.com

Metrohm

Page 20 ........................................... www.blog.metrohm.com

VWR

Page 24 .................................................................www.vwr.com


Moments in time

The Massey Medal

Awarded for Personal Achievement

I

n 1966, Alf Erling Porsild was awarded the Massey Medal by the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. The Massey Medal is an award given annually to recognize outstanding personal achievement in the exploration, development or description of the geography of Canada. Porsild was a DanishCanadian botanist who grew up on an Arctic station located in West Greenland. He served as assistant botanist at the Danish Biological Station in Greenland from 1922-1925 in his twenties, before being invited by the Canadian government to undertake a survey of reindeer grazing potentials in northern Alaska and the Northwest Territories of Canada. During his career, he authored more than 100 scientific publications on the Canadian Arctic Archipelago and the Rocky Mountains. He made thousands of plant discoveries, resulting in 80 new species being currently housed at the National Herbarium of Canada at the Canadian Museum of Nature, in Ottawa. Porsild made such an impact on botanical research in Canada that the Canadian Botanical Association created the “Alf Erling Porsild Award” in recognition of the best paper published in the field of systematic and phytogeography solely in his honour. Photo top: Alf Erling Porsild examines a herbarium specimen in 1957. Image: Public domain. Bottom: Alf Erling Porsild. Image: William A. Weber © William A. Weber

Reference: http://pubs.aina.ucalgary.ca/arctic/Arctic31-1-67.pdf www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/alf-erling-porsild/

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Lab Business January/February 2018  

Lab Business January/February 2018