Remote AI-Run Robotics Lab, Gut Microbiome as Targetable Biomarker, More

June 30, 2022

June 30, 2022 | A comprehensive ligand- and structure-based design platform delivers new and improved features for molecule design; an advanced automated GC headspace sampler and GC/mass spectrometry solution helps lab teams simplify operations; 10x Genomics releases a series of profiling products; and more. 

Paradigm4 launched the Precision Cell Atlas as an integral component of its REVEAL: SingleCell app. The Precision Cell Atlas enables scientists to create a custom cell atlas by selectively combining an unlimited number of samples from multiple datasets for specific research objectives and explicitly saving them for collaboration, reuse, and regulatory filings. With its initial launch in 2020, REVEAL: SingleCell offered biopharmaceutical computational biologists the ability to break through the data wrangling and programming challenges associated with analyzing large-scale, single-cell datasets. Press release.

PerkinElmer announced three new research use-only library preparation kits: NEXTFLEX Small RNA-Seq Kit v4, NEXTFLEX Rapid XP V2 DNA-Seq Kit, and PG-Seq Rapid Kit v2. The NEXTFLEX Small RNA-Seq Kit v4 delivers gel-free library prep from purified miRNA or 1ng of total RNA and exceptional miRNA discovery rates. The kit produces sequence-ready small-RNA libraries in approximately six hours and allows multiplexing of 384 samples per run using unique dual-index barcodes. The NEXTFLEX Rapid XP V2 DNA-Seq Kit includes proprietary NEXTFLEX normalization beads that shorten the time needed for quantification and pooling preparation for sequencing by up to 3 hours per 96 samples. The PG-Seq Rapid Kit v2 analyzes picogram quantities of DNA from an embryo biopsy for preimplantation genetic research with enhanced whole-genome coverage and accuracy. Press release.

Benchling, the R&D Cloud in the biotechnology industry, announced new executive leaders, Shawna Wolverton as Chief Product Officer and Stuart Kerst as Head of Revenue Operations. Wolverton, formerly of Zendesk and Salesforce, played a critical role in developing both companies’ platform product strategies focused on end-user community engagement. Kerst brings 25 years’ experience managing global field teams, most recently from Workday, as well as SAP, HP, and SurveyMonkey. Wolverton will lead Benchling’s ambitious goal to be the R&D Cloud at the center of an expansive biotech ecosystem. Kerst will ensure the company scales a high level of service globally to organizations of all sizes. Press release

Cresset, a molecule discovery and design software provider, announced the release of Flare V6, their comprehensive ligand- and structure-based design platform. This release delivers new and improved features to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of molecule design, such as a user-friendly interface, a new library enumeration method to create in silico libraries and arrays, 2D ligand-protein interaction maps for a simplified visualization of ligand-protein contacts, and significantly enhanced 3D graphics. Additionally, Flare’s new pocket detection method enables users to find and characterize potential druggable binding sites. Press release

PerkinElmer, a global company committed to innovating for a healthier world, launched the Gas Chromatography (GC) 2400 Platform–an advanced automated GC headspace sampler and GC/mass spectrometry solution designed to help lab teams simplify lab operations, drive precise results, and perform more flexible monitoring. The GC automated sampling capabilities reduce hands-on time and human error for high throughput lab environments and complex applications. With sustainability and safety in mind, built-in sensors and a software-driven gas saver mode reduce operational gas consumption and support carrier gas alternatives such as hydrogen. Press release

Akadeum Life Sciences, a global company in buoyancy-based technology in cell therapy manufacturing, clinical diagnostics, and cell and molecular research for human health and life sciences, announced a patent issuance for its proprietary method of buoyancy-based cell sorting (BACS) technologies from biological fluid samples. The patent applies to the company’s comprehensive portfolio of cell separation products, explicitly acknowledging the use of buoyant microbubbles to separate targeted cell groups. Akadeum’s BACS technology is revolutionary because it utilizes low-density particles, called “microbubbles,” to float targeted cells to the top of a sample. BACS technology eliminates the need for a magnet or column within the separation process, creating a more cost-effective and less limited workflow than standard methods used throughout the industry. Press release

Sanofi has chosen to scale its natural language generation (NLG) capabilities with Yseop, the AI software and Natural Language Processing company. Sanofi will use the platform to accelerate its clinical study submission processes and bring new treatments to patients faster. Sanofi is one of the first pharmaceutical firms to leverage NLG in their clinical trial documents authoring workflows and is a pioneer in artificial intelligence use for faster drug development. Sanofi plans to expand the Yseop platform to a wide range of therapeutic and vaccine use cases this year. Press release

WEKA unveiled the fourth generation of its unified software-based platform that delivers a consistent, highly performant, and scalable data management experience across on-premises, edge, hybrid, and now, multi-cloud environments for organizations looking to innovate and achieve first-to-market results with artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and other next-generation workloads. Key features and capabilities of the new release include a unified multi-cloud data platform for AI and next-gen workloads and class-leading economics. WEKA 4 provides native integration with Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, and Oracle Cloud Infrastructure to give organizations a unified deployment option that performs consistently–regardless of their preferred location. The platform also provides three overlapping ways for customers to optimize their environments for cost, availability, scale–tiering to local and cloud object storage, a new choice of capacity or performance-optimized NVMe drives, and new, file system-wide data reduction that can increase capacity. Press release

Insilico aims to strengthen its end-to-end artificial intelligence (AI) platform by launching an AI-run robotics lab. The lab has been in the design phase for the past two years and is expected to be fully operational this year. It is a real-world interconnected expansion of Insilico’s drug discovery platform. It will be run remotely by their AI system with autonomous guided vehicles performing experiments in place of human scientists. These robots will perform cell cultures, high throughput screening, next-generation sequencing, cell imaging, and genomics analysis and prediction. This launch is part of the company’s focus on improving and validating its platform, bringing its lead candidate to Phase 2 trials, and further developing its numerous therapeutic programs. Press release

Element Biosciences, developer of the Element AVITI DNA sequencing platform, announced that it shipped multiple AVITI systems to its first set of customers. Additionally, Element is introducing new volume-based pricing, launching ElemBio Capital Solutions for financing and leasing options, and announcing the upcoming launch of its new AVITI 150-Cycle Sequencing Kit to ship in Q4 2022. The AVITI System is based on a single flow cell and sequencing reagent cartridge design that offers up to 300 cycles and tunable read throughput control for each of two independently operated flow cells. The Element AVITI 150-Cycle Sequencing Kit is designed for researchers who want to do short-read sequencing. Press release

Pure Storage has announced the FlashBlade//S family of products with a new modular architecture built on uniquely co-designed hardware and software. FlashBlade is a unified fast file and object platform that leverages a nearly unlimited scalable metadata architecture, offering over double the density, performance, and power efficiency of previous versions. Pure also announced the next generation of AIRI//S, the industry’s first comprehensive AI-Ready Infrastructure powered by NVIDIA. This Pure and NVIDIA solution enhances FlashBlade’s broad use cases across AI, machine learning, and modern analytics. Press release

10x Genomics announced a series of product updates previously previewed at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in January. The new Chromium Fixed RNA Profiling Kit enables single-cell transcriptomics on dissociated formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissues and allows for single-cell analysis on preserved biobank samples for the first time. In addition, Visium CytAssis–the company's first spatial instrument and compact benchtop system simplifies sample processing by facilitating the transfer of analytes from tissue sections. Visium for FFPE v2 is the second version of its spatial FFPE workflow that profiles RNA and dozens of proteins simultaneously in the same FFPE tissue section at high spatial resolution. A Xenium platform for in situ analysis is also launching later this year. Xenium is expected to offer single-molecule RNA analysis at subcellular resolution and be compatible with fresh, frozen, and FFPE tissues. Press release

Integrated DNA Technologies (IDT) agreed with Beckman Coulter Life Sciences to distribute its Biomek NGeniuS Next Generation Sequencing Library Prep System–a purpose-built liquid handler for next-generation sequencing (NGS) library preparation. The distribution deal bolsters the partnership between IDT and Beckman Coulter Life Sciences and makes high-performance NGS solutions accessible to fast-growing labs seeking to generate libraries with out-of-the-box automation efficiently. In addition, the NGS workstation eliminates loading errors by combining a sophisticated optical analytics technology—Dynamic DeckOptix system—to provide users with real-time feedback on labware placement. Press release

Genomenon partnered with Agilent to integrate the Genomenon Mastermind Genomic Search Engine into the latest version of Agilent Alissa Interpret. Genomenon’s Mastermind Genomic Search Engine supports variant interpretation efforts for cancer and genetic disease by using an AI-driven approach to connect patient genetic data with relevant scientific evidence. It is used by over 2,000 Genomenon and Agilent diagnostic labs and integrated into 18 clinical-grade decision support platforms and reference databases across the globe. Alissa Interpret is Agilent’s cloud-based software for interpreting and validating NGS-based tests for rare diseases and somatic and hematologic oncology. Press release

DNA Script, a company in enzymatic DNA synthesis, has launched the industry’s first solution to enable same-day turnaround for custom q/dPCR assays with a new generation of kits for the SYNTAX System to print both primers and probes in hours. For the first time since the introduction of PCR in 1984, labs will be able to design and print q/dPCR assays, directly on their benchtops, in as little as 8 hours. The new kits accelerate assay development workflows in genomics, particularly for q/dPCR, NGS, ISH, and FISH. Press release

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center presented two studies that shed new light on the potential of the gut microbiome as a targetable biomarker to improve responses to immunotherapy. One study (DOI: 10.1200/JCO.2022.40.16_suppl.2006) reported gut microbiome associations with immunotherapy response in newly diagnosed glioblastoma patients. As a result, many clinical trials for glioblastoma at MD Anderson routinely include stool sample collection to enable correlative gut microbiome studies. The second study (DOI: 10.1200/JCO.2022.40.16_suppl.2511) identified a link between gut microbiome signatures, immune cells in the tumor microenvironment, and immune checkpoint blockade responses in melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer, and sarcoma. Press release

The INvestigation of Co-occurring conditions across the Lifespan to Understand Down syndromE (INCLUDE) Project Data Coordinating Center launched the INCLUDE Data Hub, a free-to-use, one-of-a-kind online tool for sharing, collecting, and analyzing data specifically about Down syndrome. The INCLUDE Data Hub provides centralized access to large-scale research resources, including a biospecimen library and clinical and multi-omics datasets, as part of the National Institutes of Health-funded INCLUDE Project, a research effort to advance our understanding of health and quality-of-life needs of people with Down syndrome. The Data Hub currently features data from more than 8,000 study participants and almost 30,000 biospecimens collected exclusively from people with Down syndrome. Press release

Waters Corporation recently unveiled new instruments, software, and product enhancements to drive drug discovery and development. New products include the Xevo G3 quadrupole time-of-flight (QTof) mass spectrometer, CONFIRM Sequence app, and an electrospray ionization source for the high-resolution Waters SELECT SERIES Multi-Reflecting Time of Flight (MRT) mass spectrometer. The new Xevo G3 QTof system is a high-performance, benchtop mass spectrometer for characterizing and quantifying thermally fragile molecules in biotherapeutics, forensics, metabolite identification, metabolomics, extractables, and leachables. The CONFIRM Sequence app on the waters_connect software platform helps scientists confirm the nucleic acid sequence of therapeutics and identify impurities that could compromise product safety and efficacy. The Waters SELECT SERIES MRT System enables scientists to measure low (<200 ppb) concentrations of sample analytes for metabolomics, metabolite identification, or peptide mapping applications. Press release

PerkinElmer announced the launch of the research-use-only BioQule Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) System–an automated benchtop solution for NGS library preparation of up to eight samples. By incorporating automated thermocycling, integrated quality control through optical quantification, and robust liquid handling technology into a single device, the BioQule NGS System enables researchers to produce high-quality NGS libraries that yield reliable and reproducible results in a variety of genomic analysis applications. In addition to its straightforward design and walk-away automation capabilities, the BioQule NGS System expands opportunities in NGS library preparation by requiring as little as 10 ng of starting material to create libraries. In comparison, other systems require 50 ng or more. Press release

Bezyl, a global digital mental health company, announced its collaboration with THREAD to provide a mental health digital app and support system to patients participating in clinical trials. Grounded within a secure communications platform, the Bezyl app makes it easier for patients to ask for help from friends, family, and caregivers. Additionally, it provides access to valuable and easy-to-navigate resources specific to the patients' needs. As a peer-support tool, the Bezyl app aims to help patients eliminate anxiety, retain their participation in clinical trials, maintain treatment compliance, and, most importantly, build their mental strength. Press release