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How It Works: Affordable, High Density -80 C Biobanking

Since the early 1990s, biobanking has been evolving as a key resource, increasing the availability and use of biological material such as DNA, RNA, tissues and cells for biomedical research.

by TTP Labtech
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Problem: Since the early 1990s, biobanking has been evolving as a key resource, increasing the availability and use of biological material such as DNA, RNA, tissues and cells for biomedical research. Aside from large biobanking schemes set up by national and institutional biobanks (e.g. the genome project and the National Cancer Institute), there are a growing number of smaller research groups and companies needing low cost, compact, automated and secure biobanking facilities as their sample libraries increase. At present, these smaller research groups employ traditional storage methods, using freezers and liquid nitrogen dewars which require manual labelling, rack organization, logging and placement. With vast numbers of biological samples, this process can become time-consuming, labour intensive, and open to error. In addition, sample placement and retrieval can result in significant temperature fluctuations as a result of freezer doors being opened or dewar lids being removed and racks being taken out. This process can result in the unnecessary partial thawing of unpicked samples, potentially affecting sample stability and quality. Small pharma companies and research groups are unable to commit both the space and the finances to invest in the large automated -80°C storage platforms currently available on the market. It would therefore be advantageous to have an efficient, small and robust automated -80°C biobanking store providing secure tube placement and sample tracking. Furthermore, the ability to retrieve or “cherry-pick” individual samples would minimize disturbance to other samples within the store.

Solution: With increasing numbers of biological samples, such as ex-vivo materials (e.g. tissue, blood and organs), genetic material or cell lines, biobanking has become a major area of growth across the biomedical research industry. As a result, small, high density, automated biobanking stores have become important for the increasing number of small research groups, enabling them to manage sample storage effectively.

For example, arktic, the -80ºC biobanking option from TTP Labtech, was introduced as a natural progression from the company’s small footprint, modular comPOUND, launched for the automated storage of compound libraries and samples between ambient and -20ºC. Incorporating comPOUND’s pneumatic transport technology, arktic offers affordable, compact and high density automated storage at -80ºC. With the intelligent software and secure bar-code based sample tracking systems such as the arktic provide, automated and fast sample placement and retrieval is easily achieved.

The arktic in particular provides compact storage under nitrogen or dry air in a hermetically sealed environment, as well as the ability to cherry-pick individual microtubes for delivery within 60 seconds, ensuring the integrity of valuable biological samples is maintained within the store. Connecting easily to database and Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS), the technology allows the pre-sorting of tubes within the -80°C environment, enabling “sets” of samples to be readied for fast delivery, when required. This ability to sort samples within the -80°C store enables the removal of complete sets, as well as individual tubes from the store for analysis. Moreover, the absence of moving internal parts addresses concerns arising from the robustness of internally functioning robotics in such a low temperature environment.

TTP Labtech’s arktic -80ºC biobank

With the capacity to hold up to 95,000 0.5mL tubes, the arktic modular store can fit neatly into a bench-sized space in the laboratory, making stores like this ideal for research groups with limited space. As biobanking requirements increase, additional modules can be easily linked together to provide the flexibility for an almost unlimited library capacity.

For further information, please see http://www.ttplabtech. com/new/arktic.html or contact