INTEGRA’s ASSIST PLUS pipetting robot helps to streamline sample pooling for arbovirus testing

INTEGRA Biosciences’ ASSIST PLUS pipetting robot is helping the Arbovirus Testing Lab at the New Hampshire Public Health Laboratories in Concord, USA, to streamline sample pooling for West Nile and Eastern equine encephalitis virus testing.

Laboratory supervisor Denise Bolton explained: “We adopted pooled testing in summer 2020, initially constructing the sample pools manually. However, the additional step complicated the workflow, required high levels of concentration and focus, and occupied over an hour of analyst time. Adding a manual pooling step was also quite risky from a quality standpoint, and we worried about the opportunity for analyst error.”

We were already familiar with the ASSIST PLUS system, as we use it for our COVID-19 samples. It was easy to write a pooling program using the VIALAB software, and the flexibility of the 8 channel VOYAGER adjustable tip spacing pipette meant that there was no need to change our mosquito processing method. We use the platform to transfer aliquots from 2 ml tubes into a 96 well plate to create the sample pools, then add lysis buffer directly, using the entire pool for nucleic acid extraction. This streamlines the process, saving time and reducing the use of plastic labware, since we aren't constructing high volume pools then transferring an aliquot for extraction. We have seen a 75% saving in extraction and PCR reagents, and reduced the use of PCR instrumentation for the surveillance program, as well as saving precious analyst time. Most importantly, we have confidence that the most complex step in the process is being performed without errors.”

Denise Bolton, Laboratory Supervisor

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