NuGEN and Hamilton increase sample throughput for gene expression analysis

18 September 2008

NuGEN Technologies, Inc., a privately held company that develops and commercializes nucleic acid amplification and sample preparation systems, and the Hamilton Company, a world leader in precision liquid handling have assembled an automated, total target preparation solution that increases the throughput in processing large sets of clinical samples for global gene expression analysis.

The validated solution, consisting of NuGEN’s Ovation Systems and the Hamilton MICROLAB STARlet bench-top liquid handling system, was carefully engineered to increase throughput and improve workflow for small RNA samples commonly used in clinical signature and biomarker discovery.

This fully integrated solution manages a full range of target preparation functions — RNA amplification, purification, fragmentation, and labeling — for gene expression analysis using Affymetrix GeneChip and HT arrays. The net result of its improved workflow includes not only increased throughput, but higher reproducibility, reduced hands-on intervention, and the ability to process RNA from a wide spectrum of clinical samples including whole blood, biopsies, and laser-captured micro-dissected specimens.

According to Dr. Joe Don Heath, NuGEN senior director, technical marketing and automation solutions, the NuGEN/Hamilton collaboration was inspired by the automation requirements of a mutual customer. “An important customer challenged us to develop a solution that would round out the workflow methodology supporting a variety of valuable studies,” noted Heath. “It made sense for NuGEN and Hamilton to partner on the initiative, each bringing its own products and expertise to the table.”

“NuGEN brought proven reagents and protocols; Hamilton delivered the tools and years of automation expertise,” explained Dr. Roland Borner, senior product manager, genomics, Hamilton Bonaduz AG. “Together, we created a solution the customer could easily validate, replicate, and deploy across a range of important studies.”

Thanks to the Hamilton STAR line’s modularity, the system can be easily adapted to different throughput requirements. The bench-top MICROLAB STARlet platform, for example, can be upgraded on-site to a STARplus, nearly doubling the capacity of the automated system. This modularity is also true for STAR pipetting options—up to 16 individual pipetting channels can be combined with any of HAMILTON’s multiprobe heads for increased throughput (96, 384 or nano).

According to Heath, the customer tested and validated the joint NuGEN/Hamilton solution on a MICROLAB STARlet platform with eight individual channels. The target preparation process was remarkably efficient from RNA amplification through cDNA labeling. It saved the customer’s research team both time and labor, while fulfilling the challenge for a more robust, automated sample preparation methodology.

The target preparation process will be used in a number of upcoming gene expression profiling projects where RNA starting material is limited.

To top