AstraZeneca completes first validation of -20C DNA archive and reduces preparation time of a genetic study from weeks to days
The Automation Partnership (Tap) reports that AstraZeneca has validated its Solar automated -20C DNA archiving system, and at the same time increased efficiency of genetic analyses.
The AstraZeneca system integrates a custom built version of Tap's Solar archiving and liquid handling technologies, allowing -20C storage retrieval and processing, as well as full tracking of large numbers of DNA samples to GLP standards.
The system includes in-store arraying (cherry picking) of individually 2D-coded samples and controlled thawing, mixing and pipetting, all of which ensures sample integrity is maintained. Melissa Thornton, a senior research scientist at AstraZeneca, says: "Prior to using Solar, we stored all our DNA samples in ordinary freezers and retrieved them manually for every study. "Due to the logistics of manual sample handling, it was taking up to six weeks to locate and dilute the approximately 2500 DNA samples in a typical phase III genetics study into a plate format suitable for genotyping platforms.
"Now, because the samples are in one place, and we have the flexibility to plate DNA samples at normalised concentration within a range of different volumes it only takes a day to set up each study. "Additionally, as there is no manual handling involved, there is less chance of errors occurring.
"We chose Solar from five systems we evaluated because it was the only one that offered large enough storage capacity and the ability to cherry pick individual samples without removing an entire tray. "This means that only one of several tubes of DNA from an individual patient is thawed each time, which is important as it helps to ensure that sample integrity is maintained.
"Long term sample integrity is crucial because, in the majority of clinical trials, subjects provide informed consent to permit AstraZeneca to store and analyse their DNA samples for 15 years, and these samples would be difficult to replace".
Ian Ransome, director of sample management and screening at Tap, says: "To have a leading pharmaceutical company achieve such massive increases in productivity using Solar is an exceptional achievement.
"Researchers at AstraZeneca have worked hard to validate the archive, testing many parameters with many carefully designed experiments.
"Their work demonstrates that in a setting where throughput, sample integrity and tracking are all crucial, Solar is invaluable."