INTEGRA Biosciences’ ASSIST PLUS pipetting robot is helping the Arbovirus Testing Lab at the New Hampshire Public Health Laboratories in Concord, New Hampshire, to streamline sample pooling for West Nile and Eastern equine encephalitis virus testing.
“We adopted pooled testing in summer 2020, initially constructing the sample pools manually. However, the additional step complicated the workflow, required high levels of concentration and focus, and occupied over an hour of analyst time,” says Laboratory Supervisor Denise Bolton. “Adding a manual pooling step was also quite risky from a quality standpoint, and we worried about the opportunity for analyst error.”
Bolton noted that they were already familiar with the ASSIST PLUS pipetting robot system, having used it for COVID test samples.
“It was easy to write a pooling program using the VIALAB software, and the flexibility of the 8 channel VOYAGER adjustable tip spacing pipette meant that there was no need to change our mosquito processing method,” Bolton says. “We use the platform to transfer aliquots from 2 ml tubes into a 96 well plate to create the sample pools, then add lysis buffer directly, using the entire pool for nucleic acid extraction. This streamlines the process, saving time and reducing the use of plastic labware, since we aren’t constructing high volume pools then transferring an aliquot for extraction. We have seen a 75 % saving in extraction and PCR reagents, and reduced the use of PCR instrumentation for the surveillance program, as well as saving precious analyst time. Most importantly, we have confidence that the most complex step in the process is being performed without errors.”
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