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Institution: Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM), University of Helsinki, Finland
Publication: Journal of Laboratory Automation (JALA) Special Issue2016 abstract
Cancer therapy is increasingly becoming individualized, but there are also big gaps between the molecular knowledge of individual cancers we can generate today and what can be applied in the clinic. In an attempt to bridge this knowledge gap between cancer genetic and molecular profiling and clinically useful information, an individualized systems medicine program has been established at the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM), University of Helsinki, and the Helsinki University Hospital. Central to this program is drug sensitivity and resistance testing (DSRT), in which responses of primary cancer cells to a comprehensive clinical oncology and signal transduction drug collection are monitored. The drug sensitivity information is used with molecular profiling to establish hypotheses on individual cancer-selective targeting drug combinations and their predictive biomarkers, which can be explored in the clinic. Here, we describe how acoustic droplet ejection is enabling DSRT in our cancer individualized systems medicine program to (1) generate consistent but configurable assay-ready plates and determine how this affects data quality, (2) flexibly prepare drug combination testing plates, (3) dispense reagents and cells to the assay plates, and (4) perform ultra-miniaturized follow up assays on the cells from DSRT plates.
Institution: Vanderbilt University
Publication: International Journal for Parasitology: Drugs and Drug Resistance, Volume 5, Issue 3, December 20152015 abstract
The Malaria Box, assembled by the Medicines for Malaria Venture, is a set of 400 structurally diverse, commercially available compounds with demonstrated activity against blood-stage Plasmodium falciparum. The compounds are a representative subset of the 20,000 in vitro antimalarials identified from the high-throughput screening efforts of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital (TN, USA), Novartis and GlaxoSmithKline. In addition, a small set of active compounds from commercially available libraries was added to this group, but it has not previously been published. Elucidation of the biochemical pathways on which these compounds act is a major challenge; therefore, access to these compounds has been made available free of charge to the investigator community. Here, the Malaria Box compounds were tested for activity against the formation of b-hematin, a synthetic form of the heme detoxification biomineral, hemozoin. Further, the mechanism of action of these compounds within the malaria parasite was explored. Ten of the Malaria Box compounds demonstrated significant inhibition of b-hematin formation. In this assay, doseeresponse data revealed IC50 values ranging from 8.7 to 22.7 mM for these hits, each of which is more potent than chloroquine (a known inhibitor of hemozoin formation). The in vitro antimalarial activity of these ten hits was confirmed in cultures of the chloroquine sensitive D6 strain of the parasite resulting in IC50 values of 135e2165 nM, followed by testing in the multidrug resistant strain, C235. Cultures of P. falciparum (D6) were then examined for their heme distribution following treatment with nine of the commercially available confirmed compounds, seven of which disrupted the hemozoin pathway.
Publication: Journal of Laboratory Automation (JALA) Special Issue2015 abstract
Acoustic droplet ejection (ADE) as a means of transferring library compounds has had a dramatic impact on the way in which high-throughput screening campaigns are conducted in many laboratories. Two Labcyte Echo ADE liquid handlers form the core of the compound transfer operation in our 1536-well based ultra-high-throughput screening (uHTS) system. Use of these instruments has promoted flexibility in compound formatting in addition to minimizing waste and eliminating compound carryover. We describe the use of ADE for the generation of assay-ready plates for primary screening as well as for follow-up dose-response evaluations. Custom software has enabled us to harness the information generated by the ADE instrumentation. Compound transfer via ADE also contributes to the screening process outside of the uHTS system. A second fully automated ADE-based system has been used to augment the capacity of the uHTS system as well as to permit efficient use of previously picked compound aliquots for secondary assay evaluations. Essential to the utility of ADE in the high-throughput screening process is the high quality of the resulting data. Examples of data generated at various stages of high-throughput screening campaigns are provided. Advantages and disadvantages of the use of ADE in high-throughput screening are discussed.
Institution: AstraZeneca and Tessela plc.
Publication: J Lab Autom. 2015 Apr 2. DOI: 10.1177/22110682155791632015 PDF abstract
Drug combination testing in the pharmaceutical industry has typically been driven by late-stage opportunistic strategies rather than by early testing to identify drug combinations for clinical investigation that may deliver improved efficacy. A rationale for combinations exists across a number of diseases in which pathway redundancy or resistance to therapeutics are evident. However, early assays are complicated by the absence of both assay formats representative of disease biology and robust infrastructure to screen drug combinations in a medium-throughput capacity. When applying drug combination testing studies, it may be difficult to translate a study design into the required well contents for assay plates because of the number of compounds and concentrations involved. Dispensing these plates increases in difficulty as the number of compounds and concentration points increase and compounds are subsequently rolled onto additional labware. We describe the development of a software tool, in conjunction with the use of acoustic droplet technology, as part of a compound management platform, which allows the design of an assay incorporating combinations of compounds. These enhancements to infrastructure facilitate the design and ordering of assay-ready compound combination plates and the processing of combinations data from high-content organotypic assays.
Institution: Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Institute for Systems Genetics, New York Univ
Publication: J. Vis. Exp. (99), e52941, doi:10.3791/52941 (2015)2015 abstract
The Synthetic Yeast Genome Project (Sc2.0) aims to build 16 designer yeast chromosomes and combine them into a single yeast cell. To date one synthetic chromosome, synIII1, and one synthetic chromosome arm, synIXR2, have been constructed and their in vivo function validated in the absence of the corresponding wild type chromosomes. An important design feature of Sc2.0 chromosomes is the introduction of PCRTags, which are short, re-coded sequences within open reading frames (ORFs) that enable differentiation of synthetic chromosomes from their wild type counterparts. PCRTag primers anneal selectively to either synthetic or wild type chromosomes and the presence/absence of each type of DNA can be tested using a simple PCR assay. The standard readout of the PCRTag assay is to assess presence/absence of amplicons by agarose gel electrophoresis However, with an average PCRTag amplicon density of one per 1.5 kb and a genome size of ~12 Mb, the completed Sc2.0 genome will encode roughly 8,000 PCRTags. To improve throughput, we have developed a real time PCR-based detection assay for PCRTag genotyping that we call qPCRTag analysis. The workflow specifies 500 nl reactions in a 1,536 multiwell plate, allowing us to test up to 768 PCRTags with both synthetic and wild type primer pairs in a single experiment.
Institution: Amyris, Inc. and TOTAL New Energies USA, Inc.
Publication: ACS Synth. Biol., Article ASAP DOI: 10.1021/sb500362n2015 abstract
In recent years, next-generation sequencing (NGS) technology has greatly reduced the cost of sequencing whole genomes, whereas the cost of sequence verification of plasmids via Sanger sequencing has remained high. Consequently, industrial-scale strain engineers either limit the number of designs or take short cuts in quality control. Here, we show that over 4000 plasmids can be completely sequenced in one Illumina MiSeq run for less than $3 each (15× coverage), which is a 20-fold reduction over using Sanger sequencing (2× coverage). We reduced the volume of the Nextera tagmentation reaction by 100-fold and developed an automated workflow to prepare thousands of samples for sequencing. We also developed software to track the samples and associated sequence data and to rapidly identify correctly assembled constructs having the fewest defects. As DNA synthesis and assembly become a centralized commodity, this NGS quality control (QC) process will be essential to groups operating high-throughput pipelines for DNA construction.
Institution: Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland; University of Helsinki; La Jolla Laboratories, Pfizer
Publication: Nature 519, 102-105 (March 5, 2015), doi:10.1038/nature141192015 abstract
The BCR-ABL1 fusion gene is a driver oncogene in chronic myeloid leukaemia and 30–50% of cases of adult acute lymphoblastic leukaemia1. Introduction of ABL1 kinase inhibitors (for example, imatinib) has markedly improved patient survival2, but acquired drug resistance remains a challenge3, 4, 5. Point mutations in the ABL1 kinase domain weaken inhibitor binding6 and represent the most common clinical resistance mechanism...
Institution: Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland, University of Helsinki, Finland (FIMM)
Publication: Synergy Vol 1, Issue 1, Sep 2014, Pages 78 doi:10.1016/j.synres.2014.07.0012015 abstract
The High Throughput Biomedicine (HTB) unit at FIMM Technology Centre provides a wide range of biomedical high throughput assays. In collaboration with research groups and the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa, we have set up drug sensitivity and resistance testing (DSRT) platform with a set of 450 approved and investigational oncology drugs on patient samples. Ex vivo drug testing is currently performed at FIMM with primary cancer cells from patients with leukaemia and multiple myeloma as well as cancer cell lines and the drug sensitivity responses are integrated with molecular profiling such as exome sequencing, transcriptomics and phosphoproteomics. Currently, DSRT is run in 384-well plate format in 5 concentrations for each drug or in 1536-well plate format with 9 concentrations per drug and the assay plates are pre-drugged using acoustic droplet ejection with Labcyte® Echo® 550. The viability and cell death of cells is measured after 72 h and results are analysed using Dotmatics Studies – software and an in-house developed interface, Breeze. Application of the platform to AML patient samples has uncovered taxonomic drug-response subtypes and individualised therapy based on DSRT has resulted in several clinical responses. The DSRT platform enables drug repositioning, provides new combinatorial possibilities and allows for linking drug sensitivities to predictive biomarkers. We are developing the platform with additional readouts and increasing the number of drugs. Our Labcyte Access Workstation, with Echo 550 and Echo® 525 integration, allows development and set-up of miniaturised follow-up assays, such as reverse-phase protein array and qPCR, using non-contact acoustic dispensing.
Institution: Department of Transgenic Technology, Genentech Inc.
Publication: Journal of Laboratory Automation2015 abstract
Genetically engineered animal models are major tools of a drug discovery pipeline because they facilitate understanding of the molecular and biochemical basis of disease. These highly complex models of human disease often require increasingly convoluted genetic analysis. With growing needs for throughput and consistency, we find that traditional aspiration-and-dispense liquid-handling robots no longer have the required speed, quality, or reproducibility.
We present an adaptation and installation of an acoustic droplet ejection (ADE) liquid-handling system for ultra-high-throughput screening of genetically engineered models. An ADE system is fully integrated with existing laboratory processes and platforms to facilitate execution of PCR and quantitative PCR (qPCR) reactions. Such a configuration permits interrogation of highly complex genetic models in a variety of backgrounds. Our findings demonstrate that a single ADE system replaces 8–10 traditional liquid-handling robots while increasing quality and reproducibility.
We demonstrate significant improvements achieved by transitioning to an ADE device: extremely low detectable cross-contamination in PCR and qPCR despite extensive use, greatly increased data reproducibility (large increases in data quality and Cq consistency), lowered reaction volumes for large cost savings, and nearly a magnitude increase in speed per instrument. We show several comparisons between traditional- and ADE-based pipetting for a qPCR-based workflow.
Institution: Department of Medical Sciences, Uppsala University
Publication: Blood Cancer Journal, Nature2015 PDF abstract
To find drugs suitable for repositioning for use against leukemia, samples from patients with chronic lymphocytic, acute myeloid and lymphocytic leukemias as well as peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) were tested in response to 1266 compounds from the LOPAC1280 library (Sigma). Twenty-five compounds were defined as hits with activity in all leukemia subgroups (o50% cell survival compared with control) at 10 μM drug concentration. Only one of these compounds, quinacrine, showed low activity in normal PBMCs and was therefore selected for further preclinical evaluation. Mining the NCI-60 and the NextBio databases demonstrated leukemia sensitivity and the ability of quinacrine to reverse myeloid leukemia gene expression. Mechanistic exploration was performed using the NextBio bioinformatic software using gene expression analysis of drug exposed acute myeloid leukemia cultures (HL-60) in the database. Analysis of gene enrichment and drug correlations revealed strong connections to ribosomal biogenesis nucleoli and translation initiation. The highest drug–drug correlation was to ellipticine, a known RNA polymerase I inhibitor. These results were validated by additional gene expression analysis performed in-house. Quinacrine induced early inhibition of protein synthesis supporting these predictions. The results suggest that quinacrine have repositioning potential for treatment of acute myeloid leukemia by targeting of ribosomal biogenesis.