Insights into the products and services of Azenta

insights from industryAndre Kotze Director, Sales & Business Development, Services, EMEAAzenta Life Sciences

In this interview News Medical is talking to Andre Kotze about the areas Azenta Life Sciences works within, the product portfolio, and the services provided. 

Could you please introduce yourself and your role at Azenta?

My name is Andre Kotze and I am a Commercial Leader at Azenta Life Sciences.

What are Azenta’s core focus areas and services?

Azenta is a life sciences company offering enterprise-wide products and services. From advanced automation capabilities, genomics services to novel cryogenic storage, Azenta offers market-leading solutions and services across the lifecycle of a sample.

As Analytica is a global event for laboratory technology and analysis, we’re having great conversations around our storage, automation, and logistics solutions. You can explore our SampleStore and BioStore at our booth – sample storage systems which offer temperatures ranging from 27⁰C to -190⁰C, and are automated, space-efficient, and modular to fit the specific needs of a lab or biobank. This can either be through a store manufactured precisely to a customer specification for their own facility or at an Azenta site through our state-of-the-art biorepositories. Here, customers can store their samples with us with rapid retrieval in as fast as 24 hours and shipment across the globe.

Image Credit: Azenta Life Sciences 

Could you please outline Azenta’s product portfolio?

In addition to our temperature-controlled automated storage, Azenta has a comprehensive portfolio of manual, semi-automated, and automated instruments and consumables to meet the format, throughput, and budget requirements of every lab.
We offer solutions that range from sealing and de-sealing systems, full rack, and single tube reading, to our automated capper/decappers for screw cap tubes. Our automation-friendly, dual-and tri-coded sample tubes are manufactured from high-quality virgin polypropylene with a robust code management system to ensure each code is permanently affixed, unique, and never duplicated, enabling you to track samples throughout their lifecycle. 

As a leading manufacturer of PCR and microplate consumables and instruments, Azenta’s off-the-shelf and custom products optimize plate processing workflows. Many labs are moving from manual or partially automated means, to fully automated plate sealing and removal systems, which offer greater productivity and throughput, reduced risk of sample contamination, and increased reliability, transforming time spent in the lab.

Image Credit: Azenta Life Sciences 

What are the advantages of the storage facilities offered by Azenta?

Azenta has installed and serviced over 300 automated storage systems, with more than one billion samples globally. If we examine the options related to our storage facilities, as I mentioned, we offer large automated stores that we manufacture and install on client sites. Alternatively, customers can leverage our infrastructure, staff, and expertise to transfer the risk of managing samples and materials to Azenta to ensure they are securely stored, audited, tracked, and delivered when you need them.

The great thing about the automated store is the chain of custody of the client’s sample. A sample can be brought out of storage, one at a time, without it having to be physically touched or disturbed. In clinical trials, this chain of custody is essential. Our cryogenic store is also automated, which creates a much more controlled environment for retrieval, ensuring consistency when removing and adding samples to a collection, and is designed with features to minimize warming of target and innocent samples. 

What are the main challenges of sample storage?

One of the main challenges of sample storage is that not everyone adheres to the same sample storage style. If, for instance, you speak to 50 different people who store samples, they will not necessarily label them all the same way, or even know where the samples are located within a lab. This lack of SOPs and handling errors increases the risk to sample quality.

This disparity is the reason why robust processes and software are so vital - having sample traceability, knowing where it is, how it is labelled, and then retrieving it is both important and fairly challenging to do manually. Automated storage streamlines many of the tricky aspects of inventory management. Built-in software enables real-time visibility, comprehensive event tracking, and convenience - such as remote access and integration with a laboratory information management system (LIMS).

Manual workflows expose samples to longer and larger temperature fluctuations and are more variable compared to an automated system. Automation is playing an increasing role in the implementation of process control that ensures scalable, consistent, repeatable, and documented procedures are in place.

Image Credit: Azenta Life Sciences 

What genomic services does Azenta offer?

Azenta offers the scientific community an expansive suite of genomics solutions tailored to free-up valuable time and enable a faster route to market with greater confidence. Many of our clients see us as an extension of their laboratory because of our ability to seamlessly integrate into their workflows with a series of services that scale along with their growing needs. From Sanger sequencing, gene and oligo synthesis, next generation sequencing, all the way through clinical services and sample storage, we help researchers avoid bottlenecks and hurdles which would otherwise delay their research.

If a client is working in cell and gene therapy (CGT), for instance, they can partner with Azenta across every phase of their CGT research. We support the rigor of their program starting with target discovery all the way through scale-up. One of our differentiated offerings supporting this key area of research helps scientists working with AAV (Adeno-associated viruses), which can be particularly complex. Azenta has a unique technology that allows us to sequence AAV samples and apply ITR corrections for clients without them having to take any additional steps. Our AAV-ITR Sanger Sequencing protocol prevents abrupt reduction in the sequencing signal at the start of the ITR hairpin and reads through the full length of the ITR region. Some of our clients also combine AAV-ITR sequencing with our Primer Walking service to sequence whole AAV vectors.
Our robust experience and expansive services make us an excellent partner for organizations looking to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. 

Image Credit: Azenta Life Sciences 

What are Azenta’s priorities and ethos?

One of Azenta’s main priorities is, and always will be, to enable fast scientific breakthroughs. Part of the challenge, especially in clinical trials, is that they typically run longer than planned, which is not cost-effective. This means that our focus is on delivering high-quality solutions with the greatest of speed. Whether our customers partner with us as a reliable supplier of labware, to build an automated storage solution, or as a trusted provider for sequencing services, we are focused on enabling scientists to hit their deadlines and get their products to market as quickly as possible.

What does Azenta have planned for the future?

We have a lot planned for the future that will be revealed in due time, but I can say that we are focused on expanding the workflows within key customer applications. Currently, if we look at our product and service portfolio, it touches upon a lot of cell and gene therapy areas, an area that we are committed to serving.

Recently, we acquired a company that focuses on controlled rate thawing of biospecimens and materials, which is particularly necessary in the delivery of cell and gene therapy applications. Consistent with our purpose, to enable lifesaving therapies to get to market faster, this will see us working closer with blood banks, intensive care units, operating theatres, and recovery rooms in more than 60 countries. We want to expand our molecular biology services further. We are also looking at different automated storage solutions, and are focused on taking them into a more environmentally-friendly direction. All in all, there is a lot to do, and a lot more we will do in the future.

Image Credit: Azenta Life Sciences 

What is Azenta’s goal for the organization?

Over the last ten years, we have developed as a life sciences organization through acquisitions – legacy brands which retained their individual names. Now, we are bringing these unique capabilities that represent the portfolio we have today under a new brand – Azenta Life Sciences. Azenta will enable us to better serve our customers with scale, end-to-end solutions, and robust capabilities. Our focus on quality and service together with our expertise persists, but with an integrated portfolio that serves scientists and their research - from the very start of the R&D process, all the way to the clinic, and, ultimately, to the patient.

About Andre Kotze

Andre Kotze is an experienced commercial leader, and currently heads the Commercial Services teams at Azenta Life Sciences, with responsibility for business in EMEA.  Andre joined Azenta Life Sciences (formerly GENEWIZ) in 2011, and was instrumental in establishing a European presence for Genomics Services, as well as building and growing the current Genomics portfolio.

Prior to joining Azenta Life Sciences, Andre honed his skills in various commercial roles at Invitrogen & Life Technologies (now part of Thermo Fisher).  Andre holds an MSc in Microbiology from Stellenbosch University, South Africa, and is passionate about Life Sciences, and helping clients bring much needed solutions to the market faster.

About Azenta Life Sciences

We are Azenta Life Sciences. We provide unrivaled sample exploration and management solutions to help our customers accelerate discovery, development and delivery.
Azenta is an independent, integrated company dedicated to enabling life sciences organizations to bring impactful breakthroughs and therapies to market faster. Our name, Azenta, signals our commitment to helping customers reach new heights in their pursuit of scientific progress.

We have 3,000 employees around the world working across our leading capabilities of genomics, cryogenic storage, automation, and informatics. We continue to build our portfolio to help more and more organizations operate with greater speed and precision.

 

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