The pandemic demonstrated the power of laboratory developed tests (LDTs) and their value where commercial tests are unavailable. A significant amount of innovation arose in response to a time of need.
In addition to emergency pandemic responses, LDTs have also shown great value in the diagnosis of rare diseases and in facilitating personalized medicine.
Image Credit: SPT Labtech
When selecting equipment for an LDT, it is important to be up and running as quickly and smoothly as possible while minimizing downtime. Choosing versatile and robust instrumentation is crucial, as well as being user-friendly and consistent.
The importance of automated liquid handling within an LDT lab
Automated liquid handling is a necessity for high-throughput labs. When conducting any diagnostic testing, everything must be correct the first time, and automated liquid handling makes this more straightforward.
Automated liquid handlers enable the user to feel confident in the reproducibility and accuracy of their results. Automation frees up scientists' time to carry out more complicated work.
Why should you choose SPT Labtech?
When labs are under pressure to operate continuously at high throughput, having accessible and quick support and services from the vendor is crucial to minimize expensive downtime waiting for a response.
Using LDTs often requires the help of engineers and application scientists, and SPT Labtech provides this expertise to its clients and has a customer-centric ethos. SPT Labtech has a talented and dedicated team of application scientists who are on hand to work with users to optimize protocols for their bespoke applications.
SPT Labtech’s range of instruments includes firefly® and dragonfly® discovery, which are liquid handlers that are easy to program and integrate into workflows.
The liquid handling capabilities of SPT Labtech’s firefly to support LDT
firefly is the natural progression of innovative positive displacement liquid handling technology that SPT Labtech has been designing and developing for more than two decades.
The instrument combines the robust and reliable non-contact liquid dispensing of dragonfly discovery with other valuable functionalities, making it an integral solution for genomics laboratories.
firefly has been developed with an understanding of what LDT users want, with robustness and flexibility. Although it was designed with NGS library preparation in mind, its versatility enables it to be integrated into many workflows.
The dispense head may be utilized for six different reagents without any manual intervention required from the user. The reagent reservoirs have been designed to reduce dead volumes, minimizing the waste of any precious reagents.
firefly features a pipette head, which can be used for both 96-well and 384-well formats across the same experiment without any physical changes required to complete this.
What other firefly features address LDT user needs?
The compact design of firefly is a highly advantageous feature, with LDT labs, like all labs, often being short on space.
Another key benefit of the instrument is the software, with recent updates and new features being made with LDT in mind, including:
User access control: Each user has an account with set privileges. This ensures no ambiguity about who ran what protocol on what day. This provides the lab manager with accurate and up-to-date records, which is crucial when working with human samples.
Easy to create and edit protocols: firefly has been designed so that any lab can fully utilize the instrument. No coding experience is required to write a protocol due to the intuitive and visual user interface.
Open access software: There is no restriction on how many versions you can have or what type of computer is needed to run it. This enables users to write a protocol at their desk and transfer it to the instrument when ready.
As SPT Labtech continues to work with more users operating in the LDT space, the company will continue to listen to their requirements and use their valuable feedback to direct future development.
firefly is ready for a regulated environment. Compliance is essential when working in the LDT space, and SPT Labtech has considered this during development.
The above-mentioned software features have been added to enhance user access control, clear audit logs, and offer the ability to recover runs if any issues occur.
The importance of using the firefly for LDTs
LDTs are continuing to become more complex. There is a real demand to relieve some of this burden from scientists, and the firefly enables this.
Some firefly users have already seen the promise that it holds for LDT, but now SPT Labtech has made a considerable effort to package everything up to make the implementation journey smoother for its new users.
With the help of the company’s development teams, SPT Labtech enables its LDT customers to be up and running as quickly as possible.
The future of LDTs
As the understanding of cancer's genetic and molecular basis continues to develop, personalized medicine will become increasingly crucial in tailoring cancer treatments to the individual patient to deliver better chances of successful outcomes.
This means that genomic sequencing is likely to come as standard. As sequencing becomes more commonplace and less costly, labs will need automation to keep up with these developments and demands.
About SPT Labtech
SPT Labtech designs and manufactures robust, reliable and easy-to-use solutions for life science. We enable life scientists through collaboration, deep application knowledge, and leading engineering to accelerate research and make a difference together. We offer a portfolio of products within sample management, liquid handling, and multiplexed detection that minimize assay volumes, reduce material handling costs and put the discovery tools back in the hands of the scientist.
At the heart of what we do
Many of our innovations have been born out of the desire to create solutions to existing customer problems; and it’s this ethos that drives SPT Labtech’s R&D efforts. Our strengths come from the trust our customers have with us to develop truly unique, automated technologies to meet their needs. We combine cutting edge science with first-rate engineering to put customers at the heart of everything we do.
A problem-solving state of mind
The substantial breadth of expertise within our company enables us to be involved in the full life cycle of our products from the initial design concept, mechanical and software engineering and prototyping, to final manufacture and sale. These qualities allow us to offer the best possible technical and mechanical support to all the equipment that we supply, hence maintaining excellent client relationships.
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