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Great views of little things OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2012 VOL.23 NO.4 PP247345/00002

Tip of a butterfly’s tongue


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OCT/NOV 2012

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Editor’s

Cover: Tip of a butterfly’s tongue (720x) Stephen S. Nagy, MD Montana Diatoms Helena, Montana USA Technique: Polarised light, Brightfield Image of Distinction – Nikon Small World 2011 Photomicrography Competition

note

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My Lab

NOW in DIGITAL! Your copy of What's New in Lab & Life Sciences is now available as an online eMag.

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Back to the logs

If you ask any adults from the industrialised world what number is halfway between 1 and 9, almost all will answer 5. It’s not rocket science is it? However, ask young children or people living in more primitive societies and they are more likely to say 3! Apparently it is more natural for humans to think logarithmically than linearly: 30 is 1, and 32 is 9, so logarithmically, the number halfway between them is 3 1, or 3. Neural circuits seem to bear out that theory. For instance, psychological experiments suggest that multiplying the intensity of some sensory stimuli causes a linear increase in perceived intensity. According to a recent paper in the Journal of Mathematical Psychology, representing information logarithmically rather than linearly reduces the risk of error. One of the researchers’ assumptions was that if you were designing a nervous system for humans living in the ancestral environment - with the aim that it accurately represents the world around them - the right type of error to minimise would be relative error, not absolute error. After all, being off by four matters much more if the question is whether there are one or five hungry lions in the tall grass around you than if the question is whether there are 96 or 100 antelope in the herd you’ve just spotted. If you’re trying to minimise relative error, using a logarithmic scale is the best approach under two different conditions: one is if you’re trying to store your representations of the outside world in memory; the other is if sensory stimuli in the outside world happen to fall into particular statistical patterns. If you’re trying to store data in memory, a logarithmic scale is optimal if there’s any chance of error in either storage or retrieval, or if you need to compress the data so that it takes up less space. The researchers believe that one of these conditions probably pertains - there’s evidence in the psychological literature for both - but they’re not committed to either. They do feel, however, that the pressures of memory storage probably explain the natural human instinct to represent numbers logarithmically. In their paper, the MIT researchers also look at the statistical patterns that describe volume fluctuations in human speech. As it turns out, those fluctuations are well approximated by a normal distribution - a bell curve - but only if they’re represented logarithmically. Under such circumstances, the researchers show, logarithmic representation again minimises the relative error. The researchers’ information-theoretic model also fits the empirical psychological data in other ways. One is that it predicts the point at which human sensory discrimination will break down. Similarly, the model does a better job than its predecessors of describing brain plasticity. It provides a framework in which a straightforward application of Bayes’ theorem the cornerstone of much modern statistical analysis - accurately predicts the extent to which predilections hard-wired into the human nervous system can be revised in light of experience. So it looks like it’s back to log tables for us all.

Print Post Approved PP247345/00002 ISSN No. 2201-1951 All material published in this magazine is published in good faith and every care is taken to accurately relay information provided to us. Readers are advised by the publishers to ensure that all necessary safety devices and precautions are installed and safe working procedures adopted before the use of any equipment found or purchased through the information we provide. Further, all performance criteria was provided by the representative company concerned and any dispute should be referred to them. Information indicating that products are made in Australia or New Zealand is supplied by the source company. Westwick-Farrow Pty Ltd does not quantify the amount of local content or the accuracy of the statement made by the source.

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WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - October/November 2012

Janette Woodhouse Chief Editor What’s New in Lab & Life Sciences www.labonline.com.au

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Super-resolution microscopy

provides insight on cell division Claire Thompson

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WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - October/November 2012

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The latest in super-resolution microscope technology has allowed Australian researchers rewrite the book on the process of bacterial cell division, potentially opening the door to new kinds of antibiotics.

R

esearchers from the ithree institute at the University of Technology, Sydney have outlined a worldfirst discovery depicting a detailed picture of the structure of the Z-ring, the main protein that controls how a bacterial cell divides, in the latest edition of leading international biology journal PLoS Biology. Using UTS’s DeltaVision OMX with Blaze SIM Module - the first Blaze microscope in the world to be commercially installed - a team led by Professor Liz Harry has provided the first evidence that the Z-ring actually looks like ‘beads on a string’ in a dividing bacterial cell. “Previously, researchers believed that the Z-ring was a continuous belt that looped around the cell to make it constrict as the cell split in two during division,” Professor Harry said. An OMX Blaze image of the Z-ring structure in Staphylococcus aureus.

Image: Young Volvox sp. (green algae) colony (250x) Wim Van Egmond Micropolitan Museum Rotterdam, The Netherlands Technique: Differential interference contrast Nikon Small World 2011 Photomicrography Competition

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The research revises the model of how cell division occurs inside bacteria and could be the starting point for a new generation of antibiotics targeting the cell division process. “Bacteria, like all organisms, need to divide in order to survive. The cell doubles in size before dividing in two, ensuring that each newborn cell gets the right number of chromosomes,” Professor Harry said. “With the original version of the OMX microscope, we could look at the bacteria and get more detail about the Z-ring and its structure, but because the images took a little while to capture, we had to do it on cells that didn’t move - we had to kill them to get them to stay still. “With the OMX Blaze technology we can speed up the rate of image capture as well as exposing the cells to a much lower amount of energy. This means being able to capture three-dimensional images of live cells without causing damage to them. “It turns out that the Z-ring is a very dynamic beads-on-a-

Visualisation of constricting Z-rings during division of Bacillus subtilis. string structure, changing shape constantly as a cell divides. We also found that other proteins that are involved in the process of cell division follow the same pattern.” As antibiotic resistance becomes an increasing issue in modern-day health care, new antibiotic targets are essential for finding solutions that will treat infections found in hospitals and the wider community. “Cell division is a process that has not been targeted by antibiotics to date - and so there is a range of possibilities in how antibiotics could be developed to kill bacteria by inhibiting cell division,” Professor Harry said. “The use of OMX Blaze has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for biology research, starting with what we have discovered here.” Paul Goodwin, director of advanced applications at GE Healthcare, the inventor and manufacturer of the Blaze technology, said, “We have worked closely with Professor Harry’s team, and it’s exciting and gratifying to see how quickly they have been able to make truly unique observations that will help progress the vital search for novel antibiotics.” Director of the ithree institute Professor Ian Charles said, “This groundbreaking research demonstrates how the investment in world-class facilities here in NSW can help us push back our understanding in basic science and at the same time pave a way for application of that science to new medical discoveries. “We desperately need to find new ways to combat infectious diseases with the rise of resistant superbugs, and I am confident that this research will make a contribution to that urgent quest.”

WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - October/November 2012

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Two-photon microscope The Intravital2P is an upright two-photon laser scanning microscope specifically created for the imaging of living tissues and animals at low laser power. The microscope frame is designed around a very short, large-diameter, dual-emission detection

Microscope photometer

beam path. Collecting lenses further increases the

Warsash Scientific has an-

which are hand-selected for >40% quantum ef-

nounced the release of the

ficiency and very low noise and dark current. The

MP-2 microscope photometer

resulting signal detection performance facilitates

from Craic Technologies. The

imaging at low light levels and improves signal-

product is an all solid-state

to-noise ratio, allowing fast measurements deep

system designed for photom-

within highly scattering tissue.

share of light that falls onto the GaAsP detectors,

etry of microscopic samples in fields including biology and cytophotometry. The rugged instrument can measure the reflectance, transmittance or fluorescence photometric values from microscopic sample areas rapidly and accurately. Features include: high dynamic range and sensitivity; high spatial resolution and stray-light resistance; variable measurement areas down to sub-micron. The microscope photometer includes a sensitive detector for low noise and long-term stability, with an effective operating range from the ultraviolet to the visible and into the near-infrared region. The product also includes a high-resolution digital imaging system (up to 6 megapixels) to simultaneously image the sample and the measurement aperture. It is run by advanced software which controls every aspect of the instrument; from integration times to the bandwidth to be measured.

Imaging is achieved in up to six separate colour

The system is flexible and offers a number of upgrade paths that include full-

channels by use of the dual-colour, non-descanned

range spectroscopy, thermoelectric cooling to increase long-term stability, ultra-

detection system and the three-position motorised

high resolution imaging, advanced spectral analysis, NIST traceable standards

filter slider. The modular XY stage design with

and even full automation.

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Warsash Scientific Pty Ltd

to animals.

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SciTech Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/R741

Microscopy imaging mode WITec’s TrueSurface microscopy is now available as an integrated option for the company’s alpha300 microscope series. This development enables topographic Raman imaging on large samples for the full range of WITec instruments. The imaging mode is also available as an upgrade for installed alpha300 and alpha500 systems. The functional core of the measurement mode is the sensor for optical profilometry, now fixed in the microscope objective turret. The system measures the surface topography of large samples and correlates it with confocal Raman microscopy. This allows very rough or heavily inclined samples to be chemically characterised precisely, automatically and easily while also being confocally imaged. Extensive, time-consuming sample preparation is rendered obsolete. Alphatech Systems Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/R455

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WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - October/November 2012

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Imagine the speed and precision of a hummingbird, a rock solid optomechanical setup, and everything inside of a tiny housing – this is Colibri

 Smallest Sample Volumes: 1-5 µL

 Intuitive Touchscreen Operation on 3.7” colour display

 Wavelength Range: 200-850 nm

 Colibri on-board software enables stand-alone operation

 Instant Setup: no PC or cuvette required  Protocols: Nucleid Acid, Protein, Cell Lysate, UV-VIS

 Optional Printer allows hard copy of reports or transfer

files to USB stick for computer processing


Pipette tips Eppendorf has launched Combitips advanced, offering safe, accurate dispensing of liquids by positive displacement. Features include colour coding for easy size recognition, elongated tips to empty all standard laboratory tubes completely, a dispenser box with chute and an additional purity grade - ‘Eppendorf PCR clean’.

Benchtop transmission electron microscope

Available in nine sizes for use with any

Scientex has announced that it has

Eppendorf Multipette, the product is de-

acquired distribution for the Delong

signed for applications requiring precise

America LVEM5 benchtop transmis-

pipetting of identical amounts of liquids

sion electron microscope (TEM). The

in series. The hermetically sealed piston

instrument is actually three micro-

prevents contamination of the pipette

scopes in one, providing transmission,

and the positive-displacement principle

scanning and scanning transmission

supports high-precision dispensing of

modes. Using a 5 kV electron source

problematic liquids, such as those with

in a small footprint benchtop module,

high density, high salt, high vapour pres-

it needs no special power, cooling or

sure or high viscosity.

installation requirements.

The elongated tips (2.5, 5 and 10 mL) enable complete emptying of all common vessels,

The product offers many advan-

while the funnel geometry optimises haptic feedback and prevents damage to gloves. No slip

tages over larger units, including:

agents are used in the manufacture of the products, ensuring good results in bioassays and

producing images with improved

other sensitive analytical methods. The packaging concept and colour coding of the different

contrast but without the need for

sizes increase ease of use.

staining; multiple imaging modes in

The versatility of the pipette tips makes them suitable for a range of applications, including

a single instrument; high versatility;

ELISA, RIA, PCR set-up and general sample preparation or other serial pipetting tasks. With no

ease of use; good performance with

contamination through aerosols, even aggressive, radioactive, toxic or infectious liquids may all

low operating costs. It is suitable

be dispensed safely. A choice of Eppendorf Quality, Biopur or PCR clean enables users to select

for research, teaching and industrial

the most suitable purity grade for their application.

applications in life sciences and ma-

Eppendorf South Pacific Pty Ltd

terials sciences.

Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/R457

Scientex Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/Q906

Loop steriliser The Schuett Solaris loop steriliser is an alternative to the safety Bunsen burner, suitable when an open flame is to be avoided. Using standard electrical power, working temperature is reached within a split second - no warm-up or preheating necessary. The unit is user-friendly and offers four fixed angular working positions with intermediate stops at the user’s discretion. The product is suitable for use in laminar flow cabinets as it doesn’t emit soot and has a low heat emission. The unit doesn’t require oxygen so can be used in anaerobic conditions. The product is robust, sturdy and has no parts subject to mechanical wear. The unit allows for one-handed operation and its integrated timer can be set, guaranteeing a fixed and reproducible working cycle. It is suitable for the lab and in the field. Crea Laboratory Technologies Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/R697

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WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - October/November 2012

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Multi-label imaging without the cross-talk

Nuance Multispectral Imaging Systems: A powerful addition to your existing microscope! Adding Nuance to your lab is a simple, cost-effective means of upgrading your microscope to a powerful multispectral imaging system. Nuance enables imaging of multiple markers in tissue sections for both fluorescence and brightfield, even when they are co-localised. Setup and operation can be accomplished in a matter of minutes as the Nuance is compatible with any microscope having a camera mount. Contact us today to organise a demonstration LifeScienceAU@thermofisher.com

1300-735-292 | www.thermofisher.com.au 1300-735-292 | www.thermofisher.com.au


Digital chilling/heating dry bath The two-position IC22XT digital chilling/heating dry bath is suitable for freezing, chilling or heating biological samples from -20 to 100°C. The unit is two dry baths in one, saving bench space. It can run two separate temperatures and two different sample blocks at the same time. The unit has a built-in data logger, 30-day countdown timer with alarm and RS232 interface, making it suitable for use with robotic systems. It can be used with accessory sample blocks for 0.5, 1.5 and 2.0 mL centrifuge tubes, PCR tubes and plates, 96-well and 384-well assay plates of all kinds, vials and most sizes of test tubes. Custom blocks are available on special order. The product is suitable for ligations at 14°C, maintaining 17°C for storing oocytes, enzyme reactions and deactivations, hybridisations, incubating samples above, below, or at room temperature, storing enzymes or DNA libraries, storing samples at ice-bucket temperatures and more. The units are available in 100, 115, and 230 VAC, 50/60 Hz models. They are UL, CSA and CE or equivalent agency certified and available in voltages for use anywhere in the world. Edwards Group Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/R061

Mini-gel imaging system The GelMax Imager from UVP is a compact, complete and easy-touse precast and mini-gel imaging system. The system includes Darkroom, 302 nm UV transillumination, converter plates, epi white light, EtBr filter and Doc-It LS Acquisition and Analysis Software. The product’s compact design means bench space requirements are reduced. The user can capture good-quality images with the highresolution 15.1 MP motorised camera and illuminate gels with midrange UV or interchangeable converter plates (white, blue or long-wave UV). Also included is a black sample plate for samples not requiring transillumination. The product includes a five-position emission filter wheel including the ethidium bromide filter. Rotary controls enable easy selection of filter and lighting. A safety switch automatically shuts off transillumination when opened or after 10 min. The user can perform image enhancements and 1D analysis using the Doc-It LS software. Calibration occurs using molecular weight standards either from the software library or added by the user. The user can also create, document and print detailed and customisable reports. Bio-Strategy Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/Q252

Triple quadrupole mass spectrometer With single quadrupole instruments, interference from complex matrices can be problematic. Shimadzu’s GCMS-TQ8030 triple quadrupole GCMS/MS offers a solution to these challenges and more. Thanks to the company’s high-efficiency proprietary ion source, the spectrometer achieves high-sensitivity specification for MRM measurements as well as high sensitivity for both scan and SIM measurements (single quad mode). The instrument’s combined high sensitivity and ultrafast analysis capability allows a wide variety of measurement modes, including MRM, scan, combined MRM/scan, neutral loss scan and others. The company’s UFsweeper technology minimises collision cell length and provides high-CID efficiency and high ion transport speed, resulting in scan speeds of 20,000 µ/s and high-speed MRM measurements up to 600 transitions/s. A twin-line MS system eliminates the need to swap columns, and users can perform maintenance on the injection port without venting the MS. Other features include EI and CI/NCI models, and automatic AART adjustment of retention and MRM event times. Shimadzu Scientific Instruments (Oceania) Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/Q620

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WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - October/November 2012

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New arium速 Lab Water System Because our customers love to say:

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© iStockphoto.com/Alida Vanni

Outwitting the drug counterfeiters

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WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - October/November 2012

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Drug counterfeiting is so common in some developing countries that that there is a greater probability of getting a fake drug than a real one.

T

he globalisation of the pharmaceutical trade has the potential to rapidly spread poor-quality medicines worldwide before adequate detection and intervention are possible. There are three main categories of poor quality medicines: degraded, substandard and falsified (counterfeit). Substandard products arise as a result of lack of expertise, poor manufacturing practices or insufficient infrastructure while those falsified are the ‘products’ of criminals. Degraded medicines arise from poor storage conditions. Falsified drugs may not contain the active ingredient, may contain the wrong ingredients or may even contain toxic compounds. Substandard drugs contain active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) amounts that are in excess of ±15% of the stated amount. Distinguishing between these three classes requires simultaneously identifying and quantifying the expected (or wrong) APIs. Commonly counterfeited drugs are generally those in high demand and with a high end-price. Poor quality drugs also play a central role in the development of drug resistance, although a definite link between the two has not been established beyond doubt. Now, a Georgia Institute of Technology team has developed technology that reduces the time needed to check a sample for authenticity from a half hour to a few minutes. And they are working on the prototype of an affordable, portable version of the device that could be used in the field. At the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, Prof Facundo M Fernández explained: “It [the technology] would enable medical officials in developing countries to check on whether a drug for malaria, tuberculosis or other diseases is the real thing or a fake that contains no active ingredients, or the wrong one. They could sort the good medicine from the bad immediately, without shipping samples to laboratories abroad and waiting days or weeks for the results.” Fernández said new ways of fingering fake medicines are important because the problem is spreading with the globalisation of pharmaceutical production - almost like a global pandemic with drug counterfeiters becoming more sophisticated. “In some of our studies, 50% of the drug samples from South-East Asia have been counterfeit. And it is hard to tell from looking at the packaging. The packages look absolutely professional and authentic, sometimes right down to the hologram seal introduced to discourage counterfeiting,” Fernández said. Counterfeiting involves all kinds of medications, from the acetaminophen used for headaches and fever to lifestyle medications like Viagra to drugs for cancer, malaria and tuberculosis, diseases that cause millions of deaths annually. The World Health Organization says that about 10% of medications worldwide are counterfeit. Estimates run even higher in poor, developing countries in South-East Asia and Africa,

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THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION SAYS THAT ABOUT 10% OF MEDICATIONS WORLDWIDE ARE COUNTERFEIT.

where past reports have stated that as much as one-third of tested drugs are fake. Patients in these countries often cannot afford the real treatments and supplies of the real drugs may run dangerously low in some regions, prompting desperate patients to seek medications from shady sources. Fake medications sometimes contain the correct active ingredient, but at the wrong dose. Too much could result in an overdose and possibly death. Too little could result in drug resistance, leading to a situation where the real medication doesn’t even work anymore. Other counterfeit drugs do not contain the active ingredient at all. Still others contain toxic substances or even different drugs that could cause unexpected side effects or allergic reactions. Fernández and colleagues developed methods to finger fake antimalarials and tuberculosis medicines and identify their ingredients. The team also distinguishes between counterfeits and drugs that may just have degraded after exposure to hot and humid conditions and those that are just not made correctly at the manufacturing plant. To do this, they use mass spectrometry. “So-called ambient MS methods require much less instrument and personnel time than traditional methods, so we use them as a first pass to look at the quality of large sample sets,” said Fernández. For example, the researchers recently tested 900 samples from Cambodia in only two weeks with their rapid MS technique. This would have taken months with traditional approaches. “Suspicious samples would then be re-examined by more complex and costly techniques,” he added. His group identified several counterfeit antimalarial medications in a recent study in which they examined suspicious drugs from 11 African countries. The team is now working on new methods to test tuberculosis drugs. The group is also putting together the prototype instrument that medical researchers in developing countries could use to identify counterfeits in the field. “These are methods that let you analyse a solid sample without any significant preparation,” he explained. “You can take a tablet, put it in front of the instrument with an ionisation source and you get a quick snapshot of what’s in the sample. It provides a very high-throughput pipeline to identify suspicious samples quickly.” Georgia Institute of Technology www.gatech.edu

WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - October/November 2012

15


Paper-based tool can screen for counterfeit drugs The World Health Organization estimates that 10-30% of the drug supply in developing countries consists of counterfeit medicines, causing hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. Officials blame crime rings, which profit from selling pills that contain plaster of Paris, baking soda or other inexpensive ingredients.

I

n the US, a Saint Mary’s College chemistry research team has developed an inexpensive paper-based tool that can screen for counterfeit pain relievers. The paper analytical device (PAD) is the size of a business card and offers results in less than five minutes. It is technology that could ferret out other fake drugs that promise cures for everything from malaria to the flu. Counterfeit pharmaceuticals are a serious problem in developing countries. Undergraduate researchers modified existing paper-strip technology to develop PADs that screen for substandard tablets of Panadol. Panadol is one of multiple brand names used abroad for the pain and fever reliever acetaminophen. “Panadol long has been among the most common, standard pain-relieving drugs counterfeited around the world,” said Saint Mary’s chemistry professor Toni Barstis, who led the team. “In the past, you could just look at the labelling and packaging and know if it was counterfeit. Now, they do such a good job with the package design it’s hard to determine whether it’s a package of the genuine medicine or a fake that contains no acetaminophen or even ingredients that may be harmful.” The tool that Barstis’s team developed uses a chemically treated paper that resembles

16

a business card. To check for counterfeit ingredients, a person simply swipes the pill onto the PAD and dips the PAD in water. Colour changes on the paper indicate both suspicious and authentic ingredients. The screening takes less than five minutes and can be done by consumers. This lies in stark contrast to high-tech analytical methods, which are expensive and time-consuming. For instance, instrumental testing of pharmaceuticals in labs in Kenya can take 3-6 months. Precious time can be lost as a patient waits for treatment. Barstis said the counterfeit acetaminophen products are just the tip of the iceberg. Other fake pharmaceuticals are marketed as cures for infections, malaria and the flu. Some contain acetaminophen, which reduces pain and fever, but do not contain the active ingredient to combat these diseases. Because the Panadol PAD checks for the presence of acetaminophen, it can be modified to screen the other drugs. Barstis’s team - in collaboration with chemistry, biochemistry, computer science and industrial design teams at the University of Notre Dame - is developing similar tools to identify counterfeit antibiotics, anti-malaria drugs and Tamiflu, the influenza medication.

WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - October/November 2012

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Water purification systems A choice of more than 70 arium water purification systems is available to meet users’ requirements on water quality and to cover any application. The arium bagtanks and the innovative iJust function, specially matched to these versions, are claimed to enable significantly more efficient water usage and

Lab spectrophotometer with RFID technology The DR 6000 lab spectrophotom-

operation of the systems than that

eter from Hach offers high-speed

of conventional units.

wavelength scanning across the

The systems have application-

UV and visible spectrum and

focused operating features which

comes with over 250 prepro-

are intended to make workflow

grammed methods including the

faster. They can be easily inte-

most common testing methods

grated into the user’s existing

used today. With optional acces-

laboratory environment, offering

sories allowing for high-volume

flexibility as the user’s requirements change. All arium systems are certified when delivered. Sartorius offers equipment qualification and mainte-

testing via a carousel sample changer and increased accuracy

nance as supplementary services to extend their uses even further.

with a sample delivery system

Sartorius Stedim Australia Pty Ltd

that eliminates optical difference

Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/R708

errors, the instrument enables the user to handle their wide-ranging water testing needs.

Anti-dengue mixed titer performance panel SeraCare Life Sciences has launched what it claims to be the first commercially available anti-dengue mixed titer performance panel. This addition to the company’s line of infectious disease panels responds to growing demand for accurate testing for dengue virus, which infects an estimated 50 to 100 million people annually, according to the World Health Organization. The performance panel is designed to help blood-donor collection facilities, diagnostics manufacturers and clinical laboratories evaluate and troubleshoot their anti-dengue virus assays. It is derived from undiluted, unpreserved human plasma specimens, with 21 members representing a wide range of reactivity for anti-dengue IgM and IgG antibodies, from negative to strongly positive. Panel members include samples from individuals with recent and past infection by all four dengue viruses (DENV-1 through DENV-4). Abacus ALS Australia Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/Q288

Combining the product with the company’s TNTplus reagent vials, the user gains additional accuracy with guided step-bystep testing procedures, while making scratched, flawed or dirty glassware a non-issue due to averaging 10 readings and dis-

SPE tubes

carding outliers. The instrument also uses RFID technology, which

Resprep solid phase extraction (SPE) tubes from Restek are manufactured with specially cleaned sorbents

automatically informs the user if

and high-purity plastics to minimise background and help eliminate troublesome interference.

their TNTplus reagents have ex-

Improved in order to ensure reproducibility, every finished product goes through rigorous QC testing,

pired, while detecting coefficient

targeted to specific applications whenever possible, and an extensive certificate of analysis details the

factors to avoid errors which can

results. Each box contains multiple foil bags of tubes to improve shelf life and keep unused sorbents

occur in lot-to-lot variations in the

fresh. The tubes combine a high level of

chemistries.

quality and cleanliness with method-specific performance.

Partnering all of these features with an integrated QA software

The tubes are available with the following

package allows for scheduling,

sorbents: Silica - multipurpose; EPH Silica

documenting and interpreting

- petroleum; Florisil Adsorbent - pesticides;

quality measurements.

CarboPrep Adsorbent - dirty samples. Leco Australia Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/R700

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WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - October/November 2012

Hach Company Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/Q853

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Pipette filter sleeve

Yeast and mould test

Particulates in a liquid sample can

Neogen has developed a fast method to accurately detect yeast and mould

be a problem for several reasons,

in food products. Soleris is an optical method for the detection of microbial

such as clogging pipette tips or

contamination based on an application of classic

interfering with the user’s sample

microbiology. The test can detect one colony-

analysis. The Nasco Pipette Filter

forming unit (CFU) of yeast or mould per vial

Sleeve overcomes these problems

in 48 h or less - conventional methods take up

by fitting over a standard 10 mL

to five days.

pipette and extracting the sample

In addition to the yeast and mould test,

through a 330 µ polyethylene filter.

the tests provide: total viable count (TVC)

For user convenience and to

results in 6-8 h (conventional methods take

prevent contamination during use,

24-48 h); coliform results in 9-10 h (conventional

the sleeves are arranged into

methods take 24 h); E. coli results in 7-10 h

bags of 25 which can be closed

(conventional methods take 24 h or longer);

after each use. Pack size is 500

lactic bacteria results in 30-35 h (conventional

sleeves per box.

methods take 3-5 days).

The sleeve is made from the

The system features quick, automated, quality-

same strong and sterile polyethyl-

indicator system protocols. It enables operators

ene materials used in the Whirl-Pak

to release products more quickly, saving the

range of products. Australasian Medical & Scientific Ltd Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/R327

organisation inventory costs. The system also enables operators to easily identify, monitor and map problematic spots in their facilities. Cell Biosciences Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/Q341

Rapid

return on investment

Easy

to configure and install

Complete

fully integrated lims solution

Australian local product, service and advice

20

WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - October/November 2012

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Freezer sample management and tracking software Freezerworks helps research and clinical laboratories, biobanks and repositories keep track of their specimen inventories, from login to testing and shipping. The program also includes options for barcode labelling, particularly in cryogenic environments. Its powerful configurability features are present across this scalable product line, which includes both the Freezerworks Basic and Unlimited versions. The software offers features in graphic interfacing, giving users greater flexibility in configuring colourful box maps throughout the program, with a range of options for adding, updating and reporting on selected sample and aliquot records. The latest version also includes a check-out/check-in feature for greater sample control. Batch entry and update features have been enhanced, along with API tools for integration

Image Analyser Size, Shape and Counting for Suspensions, Emulsions and foams • Propriety light & high quality camera lens • Size measurements from 200nm - 1000µm • Morphology measurement • Easy to use • Accurate

with other systems. The product is developed and validated according to the FDA Guidelines for Software Development.

Occhio FC200

OnQ Software Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/R372

Targeted sequencing system The RainDance Targeted Sequencing System enables users to apply the familiar gold-standard PCR technique at higher throughput using any next-generation sequencer. The complete targeted sequencing system includes automated instrumentation, a sophisticated primer design pipeline and highquality consumables and reagents. The picodroplet-based platform generates millions of singleplex PCR reactions. A genomic DNA sample is combined with a primer droplet from a primer

“Providing superior testing instrumentation and products ”

panel on a smart consumable microfluidic chip. In less than 1 h, up to 2 million pL-sized PCR droplets per sample are produced - each of which represents a single molecule PCR reaction. This creates a highly uniform PCR product and eliminates bias found in traditional multiplexed PCR reactions. The combined droplets are collected in a single tube and thermal cycled and sequenced on next-generation platforms. A number of defined content primer panels are available, ranging from oncology to pharmacology gene targeting. In addition, custom panels can also be easily created to suit the user’s application. Each panel can consist of hundreds of primer pairs and each primer pair is designed using RainDance’s in silico primer design that achieves design coverage greater than 99% to the target region of interest. This level of specificity provides the ability to target repetitive and

sales@crealt.com.au www.crealt.com.au

homologous regions of the genome that cannot be targeted by hybridisation methods. Thermo Fisher Scientific Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/R712

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WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - October/November 2012

21


Merck Millipore Unleashing the potential of science. At Merck Millipore, we give you the quality, tools and service you need to work with complete confidence. With over 30,000 premium chemicals and reagents, extensive regulatory expertise and a global network ensuring swift service and close collaboration. Our Lab Solutions business provides laboratory products and equipment for applications in the life science and industrial markets. Providing premium quality, competence, reliability and consistency through three specific business fields: BioMonitoring: Supplies state-of-the-art regulatory compliant quality control products and services that ensure pharmaceuticals and food and beverage are free from biological contaminants when released into the markets. Lab Essentials: Offers analytical excellence for a wide range of applications and top-quality, validated products. Lab Water: Provides world-class water purification systems and services. Australia 1800 335 571 New Zealand 0800 46 37 25 www.merckmillipore.com Bioscience

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© iStockphoto.com/ gvinpin

The cyborgs are getting closer A multi-institutional research team has developed a method for embedding networks of biocompatible nanoscale wires within engineered tissues. These networks - which mark the first time that electronics and tissue have been truly merged in 3D - allow direct tissue sensing and potentially stimulation, a potential boom for development of engineered tissues that incorporate capabilities for monitoring and stimulation, and of devices for screening new drugs.

T

he research team - led by Daniel Kohane, MD, PhD, in the Department of Anesthesia at Boston Children's Hospital; Charles M Lieber, PhD, at Harvard University; and Robert Langer, ScD, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology - reported their work online on 26 August in Nature Materials. One of the major challenges in developing bioengineered tissues is creating systems to sense what is going on (eg, chemically, electrically) within a tissue after it has been grown and/or implanted. Similarly, researchers have struggled to develop methods to directly stimulate engineered tissues and measure cellular reactions. “In the body, the autonomic nervous system keeps track of pH, chemistry, oxygen and other factors, and triggers responses as needed,” Kohane explained. “We need to be able to mimic the kind of intrinsic feedback loops the body has evolved in order to maintain fine control at the cellular and tissue level.” With the autonomic nervous system as inspiration, a postdoctoral fellow in the Kohane lab, Bozhi Tian, PhD, and his collaborators built mesh-like networks of nanoscale silicon wires - about 80 nm in diameter - shaped like flat planes or in a ‘fairy floss’-like reticular conformation. The networks were porous enough to allow the team to seed them with cells and encourage those cells to grow in 3D cultures. “Previous efforts to create bioengineered sensing networks have focused on 2D layouts, where culture cells grow on top of electronic components or on conformal layouts where probes are placed on tissue surfaces,” said Tian. “It is desirable to have an accurate picture of cellular behaviour within the 3D structure of a tissue, and it is also important to have nanoscale probes to avoid disruption of either cellular or tissue architecture.” “The current methods we have for monitoring or interacting with living systems are limited,” said Lieber. “We can use electrodes to measure activity in cells or tissue, but that damages them. With this technology, for the first time, we can work at the same scale as the unit of biological system without interrupting it. Ultimately, this is about merging tissue with electronics in a way that it becomes difficult to determine where the tissue ends and the electronics begin.”

24

“Thus far, this is the closest we’ve come to incorporating into engineered tissues electronic components near the size of structures of the extracellular matrix that surrounds cells within tissues,” Kohane added. Using heart and nerve cells as their source material and a selection of biocompatible coatings, the team successfully engineered tissues containing embedded nanoscale networks without affecting the cells’ viability or activity. Via the networks, the researchers could detect electrical signals generated by cells deep within the engineered tissues, as well as measure changes in those signals in response to cardio- or neurostimulating drugs. ULTIMATELY, THIS IS ABOUT MERGING TISSUE WITH ELECTRONICS IN A WAY THAT IT BECOMES DIFFICULT TO DETERMINE WHERE THE TISSUE ENDS AND THE ELECTRONICS BEGIN.

Lastly, the team demonstrated that they could construct bioengineered blood vessels with embedded networks and use those networks to measure pH changes within and outside the vessels - as would be seen in response to inflammation, ischemia and other biochemical or cellular environments. “This technology could turn some basic principles of bioengineering on their head,” Kohane said. “Most of the time, for instance, your goal is to create scaffolds on which to grow tissues and then have those scaffolds degrade and dissolve away. Here, the scaffold stays, and actually plays an active role.” The team members see multiple future applications for this technology, from hybrid bioengineered ‘cyborg’ tissues that sense changes within the body and trigger responses (eg, drug release, electrical stimulation) from other implanted therapeutic or diagnostic devices, to development of ‘lab-on-a-chip’ systems that would use engineered tissues for screening of drug libraries.

WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - October/November 2012

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Particle analyser The Occhio 500nanoXY is an automatic imaging particle analyser dedicated to powder quality characterisation. It can analyse powders, suspensions and

Mixed signal oscilloscope

emulsions in a particle size range 0.4 to 3000 µm.

Oscium’s iOS test equipment mod-

The system combines an integrated vacuum dispersion

ules take advantage of the features

device and a high-resolution optical bench (camera

and touch screen technology of

10 MP and specific LED light) - the blue light enables

the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch,

the detection of the smallest particles.

and interface via the iOS family’s

The disperser provides a prepared slide glass free of

30-pin dock connector to create

contamination or damage. The vacuum disperser will gently

cutting-edge test equipment called

deposit millions of individual grains of powder onto a glass

iOS Test. This iOS test equipment

slide within a few seconds. With the X-Y plate, the device

platform is intuitive, portable and

allows the automatic analysis of all particles for particle size measurement and shape characterisation. The product offers the possibility of making a real analysis in wet mode. With O-flowcell, it is pos-

modular. The iMSO-104 is claimed to

sible to make particle size measurements, particle shape analysis and particle counting (number of

be the world’s first mixed signal

particles/mL). The product uses Callisto Software, which allows it to make these measurements with

oscilloscope designed specifically

more than 43 parameters available.

for the iPhone, iPod touch and

Microscopy Mode enables a display of each parameter and picture for the selected particle on

iPad. The product is intuitive, which

scatterplot or live pictures. A specific pump controls flow rate in order to have good accuracy on

means the user will spend more

particle counting.

time debugging than fumbling with

The product also has the option to include a surface analysis, which enables analysis of surfaces such as polymers, membranes, filters and fibres with a dedicated module.

an oscilloscope interface.

Crea Laboratory Technologies Pty Ltd Emona Instruments Pty Ltd

Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/R811

Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/Q470

Protecting your laboratory’s most valuable assets Powdersafe powder/solid chemical weighing enclosure

AirClean Systems Ductless Fume Cabinets  Completely Ductless and mobile  Microprocessor controlled  Fluorescent light  Audible and visible alarms for airflow and gases  Carbon and HEPA Filters for specific applications  Every application is assessed by our qualified in-house chemists and biologists  Environmentally Sustainable via HVAC Energy Savings (compared to ducted fume cupboards)  Fully Compliant to AS/NZS 2243.9

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Solid Polypropylene Construction Effectively weigh to 5 decimal places Electrical cord access ports Continuous HEPA filter monitoring Audible and visible alarms Secondary HEPA for additional safety and filter changing Optional Carbon Filter for odourous powders

Laboratory Systems Group Pty Ltd sales@labsystemsgroup.com.au

All AirClean Systems products are manufactured in Australia by Laboratory Systems Group Pty Ltd

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(03) 8720 9000

www.labsystemsgroup.com.au

WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - October/November 2012

25


Filter kits Good OHS and exposure minimisation practice relies on catching the contaminant as close to the source as possible. The Fumex range of LFK filter kits effectively removes dust fume and gases from the user’s work area. The systems comprise either single of double TERFU extractor arms which can be mounted to the bench using the BF table bracket or secured directly through the workstation benchtop. A flexible hose connects the extractor arm(s) to the portable filter kit, which can be located directly below or adjacent to the workstation. The portable filter kit comprises either a particle/gas multistage filter comprising HEPA and activated carbon medium or alternatively a gas-only filter packed with 6.5 kg of activated carbon. The fan unit is fitted with an integrated speed control which allows the user to infinitely vary the airflow, providing for maximum user control. Extraction hood accessories are available in a wide range of options, allowing customisation to the user’s specific requirements. The Fumex LF70 portable filter kit is an advanced filter option suitable for the evacuation of airborne pollutants from a variety of workstation applications. It comprises a combination of gas or particle/gas fitters allowing extended dwell times and accordingly high filtration efficiencies. The simple and user-friendly control panel with clear display identifies the pollutant. Laboratory Systems Group Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/R398

Centrifuges The VWR Ultra and High Speed Centrifuges are designed with the user in mind, easy to use and full of protective features. Safety features such as automatic rotor locking and powerful imbalance protection offer peace of mind and consistency of results. The company’s flexible systems offer adaptability for any application. With automatic rotor-life management that accurately logs the actual percentage of rotor life used, plus automatic rotor-life extension, the user will get more from their VWR centrifuge. VWR International Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/R743

Microvolume spectrometer With the Colibri Microvolume Spectrometer - for DNA, RNA, protein and more - even the smallest samples can be easily pipetted into the measurement position. The product’s hydrophobic ring facilitates sample placement. After measurement, the sample can be wiped off or recovered. The optical pathlength can be set to 0.2 or 1 mm. A motor positions the sample chamber to the chosen pathlength with high precision. For some protocols, the instrument can be set to automatically sense the pathlength. The compressed sample is surrounded by inert materials. This eliminates evaporation of the free liquid column, which means there will be no increase of concentration and false results. Unlike conventional instruments, the surfaces do not require frequent reconditioning. In addition to the intuitive colour touch-screen interface, entries can be made on soft keys, the optional computer mouse or even a separate computer keyboard, depending on the user’s preference. Once the product is turned on, the user can begin. No extra PC, cuvette or loose parts are required, and there is nothing to be connected. There is a comprehensive onboard software package. Bio-Strategy Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/R698

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WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - October/November 2012

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Adaptive intelligence rheometer Users can gain an understanding of their material flow properties or process problems with Kinexus - from simple viscosity to complex viscoelastic parameters. The intelligence of the product results in less time spent learning how to master the system and more time characterising samples. Using the requirements input by the operator, the search engine selects the appropriate measurement geometries and accessories that are auto-recognised and auto-configured. Continuous live data collection and feedback provide a complete history of the sample from loading to unloading, ensuring that every aspect of the testing can be verified. The critical hardware systems - motor, gap and normal force and temperature - are independently configurable and controllable. The product is highly flexible and easy to expand as new applications emerge, with the modular plug-and-play cartridge system and intelligent communication ports making switching accessories quick and easy.

Digital PCR system The RainDrop Digital PCR System from RainDance is an absolute method for DNA quantification. Template DNA is diluted to single molecule occupancy per reaction. Using millions of droplets as reaction chambers and end-point amplification, positive PCR reactions are counted as a direct measurement of the number of DNA molecules originally present. Fluorogenic probes are used to discriminate PCR(+) and (-) reactions and, unlike qPCR, standard curves are not necessary. Built on the company’s RainStorm picodroplet technology, the RainDrop system generates up to 10 million pL-sized droplets per lane. Since each droplet encapsulates a single molecule, researchers can quickly determine the absolute number of droplets containing specific target DNA and compare that to the number of droplets with background wild-type DNA. The system also shifts the current digital PCR (dPCR) paradigm from a single colour per marker approach to a two colour with varying probe intensity method that is capable of multiplexing up to 10 markers. The product is sensitive, able to detect one mutant amongst 250,000 wild-type molecules with a lower limit of detection of one in more than 1,000,000. The system is flexible due to increased multiplexing capabilities, with the ability to optimise the number

ATA Scientific Pty Ltd

of PCR reactions based on the user’s sensitivity and multiplex

Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/R191

requirements. Thermo Fisher Scientific Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/R710

HI 2221 • HI 2223

Calibration CheckTM pH Benchtop Meters • • • • • • • •

pH Calibration CheckTM On-screen electrode condition and response time Up to 5 point calibration with 7 standard buffers Diagnostic alerts through icons Log up to 500 samples (HI223) GLP features PC interface via USB Supplied complete with HI1131B pH electrode, HI7662 temperature probe, HI76404N electrode holder, 12VDC adapter and instructions

Tel: 03 9769 0666 Fax: 03 9769 0699 Email: sales@hannainst.com.au Web: www.hannainst.com.au

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WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - October/November 2012

27


Water-testing colorimeter The Hydrodyne Systems AquaKing is a compact, portable, 500 g, AC or AA battery-operated water testing colorimeter for analysis of potable

Western blot loading control antibodies

water, wastewater, boiler water and cooling

Western blotting is an application that requires endogenous or

water, in aquaculture, power-generation plants,

internal controls such as proteins and peptides, as they are

industrial/manufacturing process water, metal

widely used for determining specific protein levels via Western

finishing and petroleum-chemical industries,

blot quantification; internal control proteins are detected for

and educational institutions.

Western blot loading controls following primary detection of

Easy to follow, step-by-step instructions

a protein of interest. This step is used to standardise results

are programmed into the colorimeter

and normalise for any errors that creep into a Western blot

and displayed on a large 4 x 16 line

experiment, such as sample loss through loading at SDS-

display. The product is programmable

PAGE or Western blot transfer.

for a customised battery of up to 60

The loading control candidates for Western blotting are usu-

preprogrammed analyte concentra-

ally proteins with high and constitutive expression. The most

tion tests to save the user time in

basic criterion for a loading control is that its levels remain

the field. It stores up to 99 test results

unchanged throughout an experiment, regardless of tissues

in memory to be used for data-logging purposes

or cell types used and how they are handled. This means

(date and time stamped) and the results can easily be downloaded

control candidates require careful selection; even bastions of

to a PC. The instrument includes automatic wavelength selection

the loading control repertoire - such as β-actin and α-tubulin -

between 425 and 660 nm and comes with a durable carrying case.

can be affected by the conditions of an experiment.

The product’s Curve Fit (CF) technology is claimed to be superior

ProteinTech produces antibodies from whole protein an-

to conventional colorimetric technology. Results are not affected by

tigens for use as Western blot loading controls. The range

turbidity, temperature variations or stray light. The colorimeter never

includes: Actin - the most abundant proteins in the typical

needs recalibration, as it recalibrates automatically every time it is

eukaryotic cell, accounting for about 15% of total protein

used. It is also upgradeable for custom testing applications.

in some cell types; COX-4 - expressed at a dependably

Novasys Group Pty Ltd

high level; GAPDH - high and constant expression in most

Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/R390

tissue and cell types; and VDCA1 - ubiquitously expressed in tissue and highly conserved throughout multiple species. United Bioresearch Products Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/R123

DNA kits Life Technologies has launched GlobalFiler and GlobalFiler Express, two DNA kits that will, according to the company, make it faster and easier for crime labs performing forensic testing to process DNA samples. By increasing the number of genetic markers by over 30% to 24, GlobalFiler delivers the ability to recover more information from forensic samples and increases discrimination power by up to nine orders of magnitude. This results in faster and more powerful comparisons of forensic data to resolve crimes. Combined with five times faster processing efficiency, this advancement will enable forensic scientists to solve and prevent more crime while addressing ever-growing backlogs. The kits feature a proprietary chemistry that enables 48 samples to be processed in under 2 h when combined with the company’s forensic testing systems - claimed to be five times faster than other solutions currently on the market. It also facilitates quicker and improved amplification of challenging samples, such as degraded human remains. The kits offer forensic scientists a high standard in rapid DNA processing from sample to result. Life Technologies Australia Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/R706

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WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - October/November 2012

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© iStockphoto.com/ Shunyu Fan

Using mass spectrometry to identify proteins at pg/mL levels By combining two well-established analytic techniques and adding a twist, researchers have been able to identify proteins from blood with as much accuracy and sensitivity as the antibody-based tests used clinically. The technique should be able to speed up development of diagnostic tests and treatments based on proteins specific to certain diseases.

T

he team of scientists at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) found that their technique, called PRISM, performed as accurately as standard clinical tests known as ELISAs in a headto-head comparison using blood samples from cancer patients. The tests measure biomarkers - proteins whose presence identifies a disease or condition. “Clinical tests have almost always used antibodies to measure biomarkers, because antibodies can provide good sensitivity,” said PNNL bioanalytical chemist Wei-Jun Qian. “But it often takes a year and a half to develop antibodies as tools. Antibody development is one of the bottlenecks for new biomarker studies in disease and systems biology research.” Qian, Tujin Shi, Tom Fillmore and their PNNL colleagues worked out the highly sensitive PRISM using resources at DOE’s EMSL, the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory on PNNL’s campus. The result is a simple and elegant integration of existing technologies that solves a long-standing problem. Researchers have long wanted to use mass spectrometry to identify proteins of interest within biological samples. Proteins are easy to detect with mass spec, but it lacks the sensitivity to detect rare proteins that exist in very low concentrations. Scientists use antibodies to detect those rare proteins, which work like a magnet pulling a needle out of a haystack. Antibodies are immune system molecules that recognise proteins from foreign invaders and grab onto them, which allows researchers

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to pull their proteins of interest out of a larger volume, concentrating the proteins in the process. Because antibodies recognise only one or a couple of proteins, researchers have made treatments and tools out of them. Drugs whose generic names end in ‘-mab’ are antibodies, for example. For research purposes, the modern laboratory can produce antibodies for almost any protein. But that development process is expensive and time-consuming. If you have a new biomarker to explore, it can take longer than a year just to create an antibody tool to do so. To get around the need for an antibody, Qian and the team concentrated the proteins in their samples another way. They used HPLC to make the proteins about 100 times as concentrated as their initial sample. While an excellent step, they also had to find their protein of interest in their concentrated samples. So they sent in a spy, a protein they could detect and whose presence would tell them if they found what they were looking for. With a potential biomarker in mind, the team made a version that was atomically ‘heavier’. They synthesised the protein using carbon and nitrogen atoms that contain extra neutrons. The unusual atoms added weight but didn’t change any other characteristics. The heavier versions are twins of the lighter proteins found within the blood, cells or samples. Although the twins behave similarly in the analytical instruments, the heavier twin is easily found among the sample’s many proteins. After adding the heavy version to the samples, the team sent the sample through the instrument to

WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - October/November 2012

31


Protein spectrum

CASE STUDY

To prove they could use PRISM this way to find very rare proteins, the team spiked blood samples from women with a prostate specific antigen (PSA) biomarker that only men make. The team found they could measure PSA at concentrations about 50 pg/mL. While typical of the sensitivity of ELISA tests, it represents about 100 times the sensitivity of conventional mass spectrometry methods. “This is a breakthrough in sensitivity without using antibodies,” said Qian. Then they tested PSA in samples from male cancer patients and found PRISM performed as well as ELISA. Interestingly, PRISM measured three times the amount of PSA than the ELISA assay did. This result suggests that antibody-based ELISA tests fail to

measure all of the forms of the biomarker. This is likely due to the fact that antibodies don’t recognise all the different forms that proteins can take, Qian said, whereas PRISM measures the total amount of protein. In addition to its sensitivity, PRISM requires only a very small sample of blood or serum from the patient. The team used only 2 µL of the cancer patients’ sample. One drawback to the technique, however, is how many biological samples can be tested at once. Researchers want to test thousands, and antibody-based methods allow such high-throughput testing. But PRISM can only test several hundred samples per study. However, with the time researchers save not developing antibodies, the technique might still put them ahead in biomarker development. For basic biology research, Qian said the method will be useful for studying biological pathways in cases where scientists need to accurately quantify multiple different proteins. This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health New Innovator Award and a Department of Energy Early Career Research Award to Wei-Jun Qian.

Monitoring post-flood water quality with mass spectrometry AB SCIEX has announced that the University of Queensland (UQ) is using the company’s mass spectrometry technology to analyse how the devastating floods of 2011 have affected water quality in Australia. Ongoing concerns about water quality are fuelling environmental monitoring efforts in the aftermath. Two of 12 AB SCIEX instruments installed at UQ are dedicated to this monitoring. The floods in early 2011 had washed large amounts of debris into major water storage reservoirs. This pressured the water treatment infrastructure to its limits. It also caused residents in certain areas to boil water as a protective measure against harmful chemicals, such as perfluorinated compounds and pesticides. Continual monitoring of water quality is necessary long after the worst of the flooding. Widespread contaminated floodwaters can have long-term ecological effects. UQ scientists are using AB SCIEX technologies, including the QTRAP 5500 System, to obtain the most accurate information possible about how concentrations of contaminants have changed since the floods. This data is critical for public health officials to make decisions about the safety of the water and what action needs to be taken to facilitate the full extent of recovery from the intense flooding. The floods have been called the worst natural disaster to ever hit Queensland. “Recovery is a long process, and it requires intricate, reliable and ongoing monitoring,” said Jochen Mueller, Professor of Environmental Monitoring at UQ. “We are contributing to the efforts to better understand what people, fish, animals and coral are potentially getting exposed to. LC/MS/MS technology from AB SCIEX is proving to be an ideal technology for analysing the environment. AB SCIEX is also very helpful in providing service and support to allow us to pursue our goals.” Beyond the floods, monitoring the Great Barrier Reef has additional consequences. UQ had discovered herbicides in unexpected places, including along the inshore reefs on the Great Barrier Reef, which is relatively far away from the agricultural areas where they are primarily applied. In response, UQ developed a monitoring mechanism for herbicides and is using AB SCIEX’s LC/MS/MS technology to conduct this analysis. Among other uses of the many AB SCIEX systems at the university is the monitoring of illicit drugs in wastewater. Scientists at the university are also using the TripleTOF 5600 system as part of research to sequence peptides from cone shell toxins in an effort to develop new painkillers. AB SCIEX Australia Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/R410

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WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - October/November 2012

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© iStockphoto.com/ Andrew Clelland

concentrate the proteins. The instrument spit out the sample, one concentrated fraction at a time. The fraction that contained the heavy biomarker was also the fraction that contained its twin, the lighter, natural protein. From this fraction, the team could quantify the protein.


Online water-in-oil sensor The AquaSensor AS 3000 is the further devel-

Automated microwave peptide synthesiser

opment of the AS 1000 series for the online

Biotage has introduced an innovative synthesis platform for peptide

detection of water in oils, particularly as a

researchers. The Biotage Initiator+ Alstra is a fully automated,

sensor for condition monitoring. It records

single-channel, programmable microwave peptide synthesiser.

the water saturation and the temperature of

The product is a suitable tool for peptide chemists synthesising

the operating fluid. It thus enables the early

peptides, peptoids, PNA and peptidomimetics, including difficult

detection of water problems, preventing faults

modifications. The system’s inherent flexibility for reagent set-up

and unnecessary interruption to operations.

makes it a highly effective platform for both small- and large-scale

The product’s 4-digit digital display can be aligned in two axes. It allows the user to

synthesis from 5 µmol to 2 mmol. With a working volume from as low as 0.6 mL, the product is

view the current measured values or to adjust

suitable for small-scale microwave peptide synthesis, especially

the parameter settings. The measured values are

when the use of expensive building blocks is required, eg, PNA.

output as a 4-20 mA signal and are the basis for

The system’s robotic liquid handler and precise digital syringe

two parameterisable switching outputs.

pumps reduce reagent and solvent consumption, thus reducing

The product has a compact, rugged design, with an economical sensor and individual configuration. It is user friendly

cost and minimising waste. The synthesiser is programmable via a 10″ touch screen with

due to key programming and there is no calibration necessary

drag-and-drop functionality for optimising preinstalled or user-

for different oil types. It is highly pressure stable with pulsations.

defined methods. A built-in wizard makes programming a synthesis

The product enables hydraulic and lubricating oils to be

sequence effortless and a calculation table provides the quantities

monitored accurately, continuously and online. Applications

of reagents required, allowing the user to quickly go from an idea

include mobile hydraulics, as well as hydraulic and lubrication

to execution.

systems in industry.

John Morris Scientific Pty Ltd

Hydac Pty Ltd

Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/R332

Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/R040

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WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - October/November 2012

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Low-temperature dry block calibrator The Isotech Isis Dry Block Calibrator, from Zedflo, offers operation to temperatures as low as -100°C and is claimed to be the only block bath working to such a low temperature. It is now possible to calibrate temperature sensors such as RTDs, thermocouples and thermistors at ultralow temperatures, without the need for a liquid bath. Unlike liquid baths, the product requires no costly or hazardous fluids and offers greater portability and flexibility. This makes it suitable for calibration engineers working on site with low-temperature freezers as encountered in pharmaceutical, aeronautical and food environments. The minimum operating temperature is lower than stirred liquid calibration baths and users in laboratories can also benefit by avoiding the ongoing need for expensive fluids. The maximum operating temperature is 40°C, a little higher than the minimum operating temperature of Isotech Hot Blocks. This permits covering temperature ranges from -100 to 650°C or higher with just two Isotech blocks. The device has a large insert: 35 mm diameter by 160 mm deep. This allows for calibration of multiple sensors. For thermal validation applications, there is also an insert with pockets for a reference probe (6.5 mm) and 20 x 3.5 mm pockets for thermocouples. This allows a single calibration cycle to validate up to 20 probes at a time. Full support is available, with options for UKAS/ILAC/NATA calibration. A tutorial on getting the best calibration uncertainties and a full range of supporting reference thermometers, indicators and software are also available.

Surface area and porosimetry system Particle and Surface Sciences has introduced the TriStar II 3020 Surface Area and Porosity Analyzer by Micromeritics. The product is an easy-to-operate tabletop instrument, designed to analyse up to three samples simultaneously for optimum throughput. The instrument features a krypton option, allowing measurements in the very low surface area range. It combines versatility in analysis methods and data reduction to allow the user to optimise analyses to specific applications. For applications that fall under the FDA’s 21CFR11 rule, the device’s ‘confirm’ software option provides the security features and audit trails required by this regulation. Typical applications include: pharmaceuticals, ceramics, adsorbents, activated carbons, carbon black, catalyst, paints and coatings, pro-

Zedflo Australia

jectile propellant, medical implants,

Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/Q249

electronics, cosmetics, aerospace, geoscience, nanotubes and fuel cells. Particle & Surface Sciences Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/R233

Protein and particle measurement device The Zetasizer Nano ZSP is a high-performance system suitable for the measurement of size and mobility of proteins, zeta potential of nanoparticles and surfaces and microrheology of protein or polymer solutions. The ZSP builds on the performance of the Zetasizer Nano ZS system, with the addition of improved sensitivity and enhanced performance for protein characterisation. It can also be used in flow configuration to operate as a size detector for SEC or FFF. In addition, a microrheology option is available for measuring sample viscosity and viscoelastic properties. A higher power laser and new optics give the product 10 times higher zeta potential sensitivity than the Zetasizer Nano ZS, making it suitable for the measurement of smaller, more dilute materials. It accurately and quickly measures small sizes at low concentrations. ATA Scientific Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/R732

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WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - October/November 2012

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Y-short tandem repeat assay Promega has announced the PowerPlex Y23 System - a rapid human identification Y-short tandem repeat (Y-STR) assay for forensic casework, offender databasing and relationship testing. Thermal cycling time is cut roughly in half, and the system is claimed to detect substantially more Y-STR loci than current systems. The which provides good discrimination. These 23 loci include many of

Tabless tube holder accessories

the Y-STR loci found in key STR databases in the US and Europe.

Phenomenex has intro-

multiplex system uses rapid cycling to co-amplify 23 Y-STR loci,

The system works with extracted DNA, including difficult sam-

duced two Tabless Tube

ples with lower amounts of template and male:female mixtures.

Holder accessories for its

Streamlined protocols are provided for reference, database and

Strata and Strata-X lines of

paternity testing. The combination of reduced sample preparation

silica-based and polymeric solid phase extraction (SPE) sorbents.

time and shorter cycling times results in a significant reduction

These accessories hold SPE tubes in 96-well spacing to integrate with

in total time to process samples. For many laboratories, this will

automated systems.

save more than a half day per plate.

All Strata and Strata-X products are now available in the tabless

In testing the product, a majority of testers were able to detect

1 mL tube format, enabling the user to arrange multiple sorbents within

profiles with as little as 32.5 pg of DNA, and complete profiles

the holders, adding flexibility for method development. Users can also

were detected with 62 pg of male DNA in the presence of

remove and replace a single SPE tube should they make an error, which

400 ng of female DNA (6450-fold excess). The additional loci and

cannot be done with standard 96-well SPE plates. The tube holders are

increased gene diversity improves scientists’ ability to distinguish

compatible with the company’s vacuum manifold as well as positive

individuals from different paternal lines.

pressure systems.

The system is useful in multiple applications, including pater-

Strata and Strata-X SPE sorbents simplify the method development

nity testing, offender databasing and forensic casework such as

process for fast and efficient sample preparation prior to chromatography.

sexual-assault cases, missing-persons investigations and familial

They remove unwanted contaminants, including phospholipids, and are

searching initiatives.

offered in a number of selectivities to cover a diverse range of analytes.

Promega Pty Ltd

Phenomenex Australia

Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/Q679

Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/R050

element14 offers you the widest collection of medical components and solutions from top suppliers in the world. Rely on us to support your medical legislation requirements with a wide range of electronic products that comply with medical safety standards. As a part of Premier Farnell group, element14 brings you 70+ years of trusted electronics distribution expertise, along with an innovative online engineering community. So let element14 fine-tune your complex design and maintenance requirements.

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au.element14.com/medical m.element14.com

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1300 452 488

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WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - October/November 2012

35


now available online!

Sensitivity of RNA-Seq using ion semiconductor sequencing Recent advances in RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq) technologies now allow researchers to characterise entire gene expression much more comprehensively than is possible using traditional platforms. As sequencing depth increases, sensitivity and perbase coverage also increase, enabling quantification of lowabundance transcripts. To learn more download this white paper now.

For this and more White Paper downloads, visit www.labonline.com.au/white_papers

Overhead stirrer The IKA Eurostar power control-visc P7 overhead stirrer is suitable for stirring and mixing tasks in the lab - for lower to high viscosities. The overhead stirrers are said to easily process stirring quantities of up to 200 L. The company’s lab stirrers and overhead stirrers feature an electronic safety circuit, a digital display, two speed ranges and a controlling option via the lab software Labworldsoft. A broad spectrum of stirring tools assists with successful mixing. The Eurostar power control-visc P7 overhead stirrer has a hightorque, 7-fold transmission reduction for processing highly viscous media. It features: constant speed by microprocessor control; digital display presents rated ± actual speed; infinitely adjustable without gear shifting; slim casing; quiet operation; safety circuit; non-locking, overload capabilities; enhanced safety as a result of smooth start; integrated torque trend display for viscosity control; analog interface for recording speed and torque; RS232 interface; agitator shafts are not push-through. Functionality, safety and longevity are said to be the main goals in the development of the company’s overheard stirrers.

CASE STUDY

NEW White Paper

Automated colony counter increases throughput of vaccine testing Synbiosis has announced that its ProtoCOL 3 automated colony counter is being successfully used at one of Europe’s largest children’s health research facilities, the UCL (University College London) Institute of Child Health (ICH), to rapidly assess the effectiveness of novel vaccines. Scientists in the Immunobiology Unit at UCL ICH are using a Synbiosis ProtoCOL 3 alongside a ProtoCOL HR to count thousands of small colonies of Streptococcus pneumoniae plated on modified Todd-Hewitt agar following an opsonophagocytickilling assay (OPA). This is helping the researchers there to rapidly determine the efficacy of new pneumococcal vaccines. With the increase in antibiotic resistance of many bacteria, the production of innovative pneumococcal vaccines is an area of critical importance, where the ProtoCOL 3 automated colony counter can generate and analyse data more rapidly. Lucy Cowell, Laboratory Technician in the Immunobiology Unit at UCL ICH, explained: “We routinely use OPA because we are the WHO reference lab for pneumococcal serology and provide testing for many groups. We have been successfully using the ProtoCOL HR for this work for six years but have recently reached capacity with this system, as we now have around 150 post OPA plates to count every day. Since each plate has thousands of tiny colonies on it, it is virtually impossible to count them by eye, so manual counting is not an option. “To maintain consistency, which is important in clinical programs, we assessed current automated colony counting technology and then decided to install the latest ProtoCOL system. We have been using the ProtoCOL 3 for several months, the system is smaller and its counting performance is faster than the ProtoCOL HR, so it was the right choice to help us increase our throughput.” Martin Smith at Synbiosis c o n c l u d e d : “A cc u ra t e l y enumerating colonies after running an OPA is a task very few automated colony counting systems can perform well. The ProtoCOL has been recognised internationally for nearly a decade as the best colony counter for this application and we’re delighted to hear that our technology has been chosen yet again by scientists at the UCL ICH to help improve the productivity of their important trials. The continued support of one of Europe’s major child health research facilities shows that a ProtoCOL 3 is an intelligent choice for helping to speed up the development of novel pneumococcal vaccines.” Don Whitley Scientific Pty Limited

IKA Works Guangzhou

Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/R194

Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/R076

36

WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - October/November 2012

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Single-use garments and accessories for cleanrooms The DuPont Tyvek IsoClean range of single-use garments and accessories for use in cleanrooms includes coveralls, hoods and boot

In situ PLA assay kit

covers. The range is designed for use in pharmaceutical, medical

The Duolink In Situ kit uses proximity ligation assay

device, biotech, hospital and laboratory facilities that require

(PLA) technology. It enables the user to detect and

high standards for microbiological contamination control.

individually count single endogenous

The range is clean processed, sterilised and individually

proteins, protein-protein interactions

packaged in an ISO Class 4 cleanroom. It is available as

and protein phosphorylations or other modifications. The assay can be run on

gamma irradiated to sterility assurance level (SAL) of 10-6 and folded for aseptic donning. Certificates of sterility are available for sterile garments.

slides or microtitre plates.

Garments made with DuPont Tyvek have low

Simply by using optimised

linting and low particle shedding, and are a

primary antibodies, the user

good barrier to particles, microorganisms and

will reveal heterodimers, in-

non-hazardous liquids, including some dilute

tracellular signalling mecha-

inorganic chemicals splash. They are lightweight,

nisms and receptor activation

comfortable, durable, easy to wear and available

events. The product is said to produce faster, more reliable results, with a higher throughput. It is able to detect

for different cleanroom applications. The apparel eliminates concerns about cross-contamination that can occur with laundering or compromised performance due to multiple wash and sterilisation cycles.

weak and transient interactions, and achieve

The DuPont single-use apparel program allows the user to

localisation simultaneously.

order only the quantities that he or she plans to use, offering

Sapphire Bioscience

flexibility as needs change.

Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/Q804

DuPont (Aust) Limited Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/R661

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WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - October/November 2012

37


pH meter mobile accessory Compatible with Apple iPod, iPhone and iPad devices, the PH-1 pH

Immunomagnetic separation (IMS) test kit

meter accessory measures and records pH values in the lab or field

SDIX, a supplier of rapid detection

for use in environmental, educational and industrial applications.

solutions to the food pathogen

The accessory plugs into the standard Apple dock connector

testing market, has announced that

and uses a Sensorex pH electrode to measure pH with accuracy

its RapidChek CONFIRM non-O157

to 0.01 pH. The company’s free app displays pH, mV, ambient

STEC Immunomagnetic Separation

temperature and solution temperature in real time.

(IMS) test kit has been reviewed by

Sensorex has developed a mobile accessory for pH measurements.

The CE-marked device supports one, two, three or more calibra-

the US Department of Agriculture

tion points and sends readings by email for later analysis. When

(USDA) and has been listed in the

used with a GPS-enabled device, the pH meter app will record

USDA Microbiological Laboratory

measurements with both timestamp and geographic coordinates,

Guidebook (MLG) 5B.02 as the IMS

eliminating transcription errors and improving efficiency.

reagents to be used in E. coli testing.

Powered from the Apple device, the accessory requires no sup-

On 4 June 2012, the USDA Food

plemental energy source. Its pH measurement range is 0-14 pH

Safety Inspection Service (FSIS)

and it operates in ambient temperatures of 0-40°C, in solutions

began monitoring testing of the ‘Big

of 0-100°C. Data history can be grouped by date or location and

Six’ non-O157 shiga toxin producing

exported individually or in .csv format via email.

E. coli (STEC), incorporating the

Envirosensors Pty Ltd

RapidChek CONFIRM STEC test

Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/R114

kit in their testing method. This incorporation validates the performance of the product’s antibodies

100 mL pressure reactors

and reagents, proving them to be a

The 100 mL Hastelloy Pressure Reactors EM20-100-HC and

suitable tool for the USDA, state and

EM60-100-HC are designed for use with the EasyMax, the

international regulatory agencies,

synthesis workstation which enables the development of

and customers in the beef industry.

robust chemical processes at lab scale. Accurate, repeat-

SDIX has applied its expertise

able high-pressure experiments are facilitated by its data

in antibody development to vali-

collection capabilities.

date six highly specific antibodies

The 100 mL pressure reactor’s design expands the use

to address the USDA regulation

of EasyMax in two ways. In its basic configuration, organic

for monitoring non-O157 STEC in

chemists gain quick set-up and fast results from low- and

beef products. The listing in the

mid-pressure reactions using the in-built touch-screen/reactor

MLG should provide testing labs

combination like an autoclave. This simplifies mixing, tempera-

with confidence that deploying the

ture and pressure control, and allows easy measurement of

confirmation reagents will ensure

reaction factors such as mass flow and gas uptake.

that they are complying with the

By combining EasyMax and the pressure reactor with accessories such as iControl software, chemical engineers

Based on customer requests for

gain the ability to thoroughly evaluate reaction parameters

additional STEC testing tools, the

such as gas consumption, mass transfer, kinetic activity and

company will also be incorporating

heterogenic catalysis in mid- and high-pressure reactions.

these antibodies into a RapidChek

Existing ReactIR probes that provide robust in-process reaction characterisation

non-O157 test kit to be launched

are compatible with the reactor. The 100 mL reactor can also be easily switched

shortly, which includes multiplexed

for the 50 mL Pressure Reactor to further enhance EasyMax versatility for those

lateral flow test strips for the verifica-

who study both small- and litre-scale reactions.

tion of ‘Big Six’ O-type.

The reactor facilitates experiments between 20 and 180°C. Mettler Toledo Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/R288

38

testing requirements of the USDA.

WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - October/November 2012

Arrow Scientific Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/Q404

www.LabOnline.com.au


pH

Satellite data logger Halytech has released a low-power solution for remote monitoring

mV(ORP)

and data logging which uses the Iridium satellite network Short

ION

Burst Data (SBD) service for automated data delivery.

Conductivity

The microSpider satellite is suitable for applications such as environmental, industrial or infrastructure monitoring where other

Resistivity

forms of communication are not possible. To reduce the cost of

Salinity

remote site data acquisition, the company has developed a highly

TDS

compressed data format which is said to enhance performance and reduce the cost of data delivery using the Iridium SBD service. The product’s configurable I/O combined with Modbus and SDI-12 compatibility provide good flexibility for use with a broad range of instruments. The satellite includes an onboard web server which allows the user to view and configure all parameters without special software or licences. Halytech Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/R137

Analysis of iron in aluminium Applied Rigaku Technologies has announced an empirical method for the analysis of iron in aluminium. Application Note #1237 demonstrates the performance and versatility of the Rigaku NEX QC energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence (EDXRF) analyser for qualitative screening of low- and high-grade aluminium. Commercial production of aluminium begins with the separation of aluminium oxide from the iron oxide in bauxite, the primary source of aluminium. The alumina, silica and iron content of the ore samples help determine purity and alloy quality, thus playing a significant role in the selection of a bauxite mine site. The concentration of iron is also particularly important during the smelting process to control the grade of the aluminium produced. The levels of iron are therefore closely monitored in the QA/QC process, which requires a simple and fast analysis in order to maintain the optimum product output. The product is designed to be a suitable tool for the non-destructive measurement of iron and other elements in aluminium. For this application, data was collected from disk samples approximately 8 cm diameter and 1 cm thick, cut from an extrusion billet cylinder. Three assayed standards were used for calibration. Each standard was measured once using a 100 s analysis time. The results show the analyser provides good performance for the measurement of iron in aluminium. Spectral results also show the versatility of the analyser for qualitative screening of low- and high-grade aluminium, as well as the capability to screen for other elements in the process. Australian X-Ray Tubes Pty Ltd

F-70 Series Benchtop Meters HORIBA popular ToupH electrode is now tougher and responds faster. Enhanced stability and minimised drift. Intergrating two new technologies for faster response and optimal performance. NEW TECHNOLOGY 01 pH fast response glass membrane The membrane contains HORIBA’s unique combination of rare earth metals to improve response time and increase durability. NEW TECHNOLOGY 02 Reference electrode with increased stability (patent pending) Liquid Junction clogging by silver ions and silver complex ions is reduced to 1/1000 of conventional technology. Maintaining internal solution concentration ensures a stable standard electrical potential. ToupH electrodes are now even stronger HORIBA’s glass membrane moulding technology achieves strengths more than 10 times the Japanese Industrial Standards (stress tests) Australian Scientific Pty Ltd PO Box 335 Kotara, NSW 2289

Tel: 1800 021 083 Fax: 02 4956 2525

Email: horiba@austscientific.com.au www.austscientific.com.au

Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/Q461

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WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - October/November 2012

39


Digital/analog mass flow meters

CASE STUDY

Alicat Scientific’s M Series digital/analog mass flow meters are used

Gastrointestinal Pathogen Panel monitors public health during Olympic Games Luminex Corporation has announced that Public Health Wales has used Luminex’s xTAG Gastrointestinal Pathogen Panel (GPP) for outbreak investigation activities during Olympic and Paralympic training and events taking place in Wales. Results of a substantial diagnostic validation of the GPP test conducted by the Public Health Wales Microbiology laboratory team at the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, are anticipated to be published in a peer reviewed journal. The xTAG GPP, which received the CE mark in 2011, is a comprehensive test to diagnose gastrointestinal infections. The product simultaneously detects 15 of the most common disease-causing pathogens, including viral, bacterial and parasitic infections, such as norovirus, C. difficile, toxigenic strains of E. coli, Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium and Salmonella, all within 5-6 h. Such innovations in diagnostic technology provide the potential for rapid identification of the cause of outbreaks of gastrointestinal infection and improved patient care. “We are very pleased with the performance of the assay to date in our validations comparing it to our traditional methods,” said Michael Perry, Clinical Scientist within the National Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory, Public Health Wales. “The ability to generate answers during a single work shift for a majority of the pathogens involved in gastroenteritis, compared to traditional methods which would have taken two days in some cases and much more work to return the same amount of information, is a significant advance.” “Seeing the contribution of our technology innovations and ability to make a positive impact in public health makes us very proud,” said Patrick J Balthrop, President and CEO of Luminex. “We are pleased to work with thought leaders like the Molecular Laboratory team at Public Health Wales, Cardiff, who continue to advance healthcare and public safety.” Luminex Corporation http://www.luminexcorp.com/

in processes like leak detection, flow monitoring and atmospheric testing. The latest generation M Series features a 200:1 turndown ratio, allowing greater utility for more applications than ever before. The flow meters were designed to be used as stand-alone devices. They can measure pressure, temperature and volumetric flow in addition to mass flow, which means the user will not need to buy and install as many instruments. With the native display, a user can easily change the configuration of the meter without the need for computers, complicated software or scripts. The M Series and V Series flow meters require very little power to run, thereby reducing operation costs. The product is available in any flow range from a maximum reading of 0.5 SCCM through to 2000 SLPM. With the 200:1 turndown, the minimum reading is a 200th of these maxima. The product has a response time of under 10 ms. The product’s small size makes it easy to integrate into systems, and it has very few moving parts. Little physical change in the flow cavity means higher rates of consistency and repeatability. Duff & Macintosh Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/R656

Western blotting imaging The ImageQuant LAS 500 is small in size but big on performance. It is equipped with an 8.3 MP CCD camera that cools to -25°C in a few minutes. The product is suitable for Western blots and DNA gels. The product features automatic overlay for chemiluminescence. It has a high sensitivity of 5 pg. Exposure time ranges from one-tenth of a second to 1 h. The unit is easy to install and to use due to its simple touch-screen operation, providing a consistent environment for imaging. It is fully automated, with no focus or adjustments required. Images can be saved to a USB or network folders. VWR International Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/R744

40

WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - October/November 2012

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© iStockphoto.com/ Rich Legg

Take a laboratory management masterclass The Laboratory Managers Conference 2012 will be opened by Nobel Laureate Professor Brian Schmidt. Other keynote speakers include Professor David de Kretser, the ex-governor of Victoria; and Professor Graham Mitchell, Chief Scientist Victoria.

What: Laboratory Managers Conference 2012 When: 19-21 November 2012 Where: Sebel and Citigate Hotel, Melbourne Registration: www.labmanagers.org.au

T

he theme of this year’s conference is Insights from Experts Masterclass Using the Right Tools: • People • Technology

• Business • Regulatory

Presentations will cover topics such as the latest regulatory updates; handling scientific and technical staff; being aware of the legislative changes; and learning about technology that will benefit laboratory managers in their workplace. The conference commences on 20 November with registration from 8.30 am, with a conference dinner that night. There will also be a trade exhibition. Three optional one-day workshops will be held on 19 November from 9 am to 4 pm: • ‘Laboratory Productivity - Adapting Your Space and Self to the New World’ offers an overview of the skills and technologies of lean operations and Six Sigma problem solving. It adopts ‘the production perspective’, seeing your operation as a chain of value for serving consumers’ needs. • ‘Managing Laboratory Staff - An Empowered Workplace’ considers the issues of difficult staff, conflict between staff, technical versatility and adaptability, employee engagement, and organisational systems and culture. It will help attendees set up a consistent system, where everyone has suitable goals, skills and motivation. • ‘Risk Management - Towards a Safer Workplace’ enables attendees to be proficient in a range of activities that will allow the full range of inherent risks in the laboratory to be identified, monitored and reduced. The workshops will be followed by optional tours to the Melbourne Centre for Nanofabrication or Victoria Police Forensic Services. The tours will leave from the conference venue by bus at 4 pm and return at 6 pm. They are free for conference delegates.

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WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - October/November 2012

41


my lab 42

Space rocks reveal secrets of the solar system By Lauren Davis The history of our solar system is being uncovered using Australia’s only nuclear reactor. The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), located in Sydney’s Sutherland Shire, has partnered with Germany’s prestigious Max Planck Institute for Chemistry (MPIC) in order to analyse chondrules multibillion-year-old particles from outer space. As explained by Dr John Bennett, who heads the neutron activation analysis (NAA) team in Nuclear Operations for ANSTO, the 1 mm-wide chondrules are found in meteorites. “Some meteorite types have a ‘blueberry muffin’ composition, made up of small pebble-like lumps embedded in a different matrix material,” he said. “The Chondrules ready to be analysed at the Max Planck chondrules used in this study were removed from the Institute for Chemistry. matrix using a freeze-thaw technique.” The study is a part of PhD research being conducted by German cosmochemist Uta Beyersdorf-Kuis. According to Dr Bennett, the partnership came about when enquires from the MPIC research group identified ANSTO’s OPAL research reactor as “one of the few high-performance reactors in the world that was able to perform NAA with the accuracy and precision required”. The aim of the research is to determine the length of time that the chondrules have been exposed to cosmic rays in the solar system on their way to Earth since the dislodgement from their parent bodies. This will be used to pin down time scales for the formation of asteroids and planetoids within our solar system. The OPAL research reactor. “Some elements produce gases when they are exposed to cosmic rays and these gases are held trapped in the chondrule. The longer the exposure, the more gas is produced,” said Dr Bennett. “As an example, if you know how much magnesium is in the chondrule and you measure how much neon is trapped, you can calculate how long the chondrule has been exposed to cosmic rays.” Beyersdorf-Kuis sends the chondrules to ANSTO in batches. They irradiate each one for a few minutes in the OPAL reactor and use NAA to determine the content of magnesium, aluminium, sodium, iron and other metals. After the radioactivity level is safe again, they SEM picture of one chondrule. return to chondrules to Beyersdorf-Kuis, who uses a noble gas spectrometer to heat up the chondrules to drive off the gases and measure the neon content. So far, the results have indicated that the chondrules took 4-7 million years to reach Earth after the impact event that sent them here. Dr Bennett says they also appear to have been initially present in the solar nebula as “free-floating objects before they were compacted into the parent body”. “This information provides glimpses into the processes that occurred during the formation of our solar system,” he added. The final results will be in Beyersdorf-Kuis’s thesis, which she will submit early next year, but Dr Bennett stressed that the research is just one small piece of “the cosmological jigsaw puzzle”. With thanks to Dr John Bennett and Gavin Atkins.

WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - October/November 2012

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