Automation eases the burden of flow cytometry sample preparation
Sample preparation prior to flow cytometry (FCM) is traditionally slow and prone to human error, which can drain precious time and resources from laboratories already under constant pressures. Sysmex Corporation – an integrated company that develops and manufactures instruments, reagents and software for in vitro diagnostics, along with the necessary sales and support networks – has addressed this issue by developing a unique automation solution to rapidly accelerate sample preparation for FCM applications, heightening efficiency and flexibility to ease the strain on laboratory professionals.
Overcoming the sample preparation bottleneck
Sysmex has expanded its FCM capabilities in response to customer demand over recent years, developing a portfolio covering applications such as clinical testing for leukemia, malignant lymphoma and HIV/AIDS, as well as providing instruments for quality control testing of water and beverages, and for research. However, sample preparation was an obvious bottleneck in the clinical FCM testing workflow, slowing the entire analytical process. Shogo Takatani, Vice President of FCM Business Development at Sysmex, explained: “Many of our clinical FCM customers were struggling with the burdensome process of sample preparation. Leukemia and lymphoma testing are especially arduous, as you need to add up to 100 types of monoclonal antibody reagents to multiple tubes. This is really time consuming and. because of the tedious nature of the work, there is a high chance of error, which can greatly impact the accuracy of results. We realized there was a need for greater automation in these steps, not only to increase throughput, but to minimize manual labor and limit the chance of human error. This would then allow the highly skilled laboratory professionals to focus more on clinical data analysis and interpretation.”
A collaborative approach to innovative automation
Sysmex’s FCM application specialists understood customers’ pain points and sought a partner with the complementary knowledge and experience to develop an appropriate automated solution, choosing Tecan for its proven experience in innovating liquid handling automation and long history and established reputation as an OEM partner. This combined experience proved crucial to the success of the project. Shogo Takatani continued: “We developed an innovative sample preparation system – the PS-10 – specifically for FCM, using the Cavro® Omni Flex platform as a starting point. Some existing technologies were integrated directly into the new instrument, including the Cavro Omni Robot for general purpose pipetting, and the Cavro Centris Pump to provide the precise control of flow rates needed in FCM preparation. These form the main operating components of the PS-10, with other modules from both Tecan and Sysmex completing the design.”
Increased efficiency and consistency of results
The PS-10 has proven the perfect solution to the labor-intensive FCM testing workflow, enabling automation of antibody cocktailing and sample preparation. “Automation vastly increases throughput and cuts down the chance of human error, giving customers more confidence in the results of their work. The system uses Tecan’s Freedom EVOware® software to produce an export file ready for FCM analysis, and stores all the information regarding reagents and procedures to ensure full traceability. The PS-10 can also be tailored to match specific laboratory needs, and is compatible with antibody reagents from various manufacturers. We set out to help our customers increase their efficiency and get more consistent results by eliminating user variability, and that’s exactly what we’ve done with the PS-10. Since its launch in 2019, many laboratories have chosen the instrument, which now plays an integral role in their FCM testing workflows.”