BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS—July 18, 2016— FORMULATRIX® revealed the next generation CONSTELLATION® Digital PCR System at the qPCR and Digital PCR Congress in Philadelphia on July 25th, 2017. “Based on customer feedback, we have built on our existing digital PCR platform by developing plates with up to 36,000 partitions per sample and by integrating partitioning, thermal cycling, and imaging into a single fully automated instrument that takes users from sample to answer in under one and a half hours,” explained Jeremy Stevenson, founder, and CEO of FORMULATRIX. “With up to five channel filters, the CONSTELLATION is the first ever digital PCR system to offer five color multiplexing making it a high-throughput platform capable of displacing qPCR as the method of choice for high-throughput quantification of nucleic acid targets.”
The CONSTELLATION digital PCR system from FORMULATRIX will offer distinct plate types designed to accommodate a wide range of throughput and dynamic range requirements of applications from gene expression analysis to rare mutation detection. For higher throughput applications such as gene expression analysis, plates that accommodate 96 samples will provide partitioning into 8000 microfluidic chambers per sample. For more sensitive applications, such as rare mutation detection, plates that divide 24 samples into 36,000 partitions per sample will be available.
Digital PCR has been widely adopted for sensitive applications such as copy number variation and rare gene detection for which the lower limit of detection excludes qPCR as a viable solution. However, due to limitations in the platforms currently available for digital PCR, such as inadequate throughput, high cost per sample, and extensive hands-on time, researchers cannot justify the time and cost associated with transferring more mainstream applications over from qPCR. Even though digital PCR provides absolute quantification of target nucleic acid sequences, meaning that in practice, it provides more accurate data, quantitative PCR has provided, until now, the only feasible way to quantitate at the throughput and cost demanded by mainstream applications, such as gene expression analysis. The CONSTELLATION, however, mimics contemporary qPCR with a plate-based and high-throughput workflow capable of processing up to four plates per run.
In addition to the throughput and analysis capabilities of the system, the CONSTELLATION also provides genomics researchers with a more familiar workflow than other existing digital PCR systems. Since the system is plate-based, the addition of sample, master mix, and primers can be performed just like in qPCR workflows, enabling researchers to more easily transfer their current multiplex qPCR assays to digital PCR. Additionally, a plate based system is more amenable to automated sample preparation, and FORMULATRIX intends to couple the capabilities of the MANTIS® Liquid Handler, a reagent dispenser designed to dispense primers and enzymes, enabling high-throughput, reproducible, and efficient sample preparation, with the new digital PCR platform.
Also at the qPCR and Digital PCR Congress, researchers had the opportunity to learn how the MANTIS® Liquid Handler can supplement traditional liquid handling platforms and promote reproducible science by increasing accuracy and precision at volumes as low as 100 nL. The MANTIS is the ideal tool for dispensing master mix in highly sensitive qPCR or digital PCR assays where liquid handling precision plays a vital role in ensuring experimental reproducibility.
Early access CONSTELLATION systems will be installed in Q4 of 2017 with a commercial release scheduled for Q1 of 2018.