In last week's blog
, we began a very interesting interview with Gert de Vos, the inventor of NEXTGENPCR and Director at Molecular Biology Systems, B.V. (MBS). This week Dana Pfister Sullivan, Product Manager at Canon BioMedical, finishes our interview with Gert about the ultrafast NEXTGENPCR.
DS: NEXTGENPCR allows PCR to go much faster than what researchers are used to. In your opinion, why does faster PCR matter?
We have been speaking to a lot of customers over the past few years. From what I hear, there are two things that are important to them when it comes to their work. One has to do with speed, and the other has to do with throughput; these are two sides of the same coin. If you can do PCR very fast using one instrument, that same instrument can do a lot more PCRs per day. So, for example, if you look at crop developers, they want to do a lot of PCR runs every day. If one instrument can do the work of ten or, sometimes even, twenty instruments, then you can save a lot of space and energy.
That is one side of the coin. The other is simply that some users would really like to go faster. We have a current user in the north of the Netherlands that will publish their data in the next couple of months. They are running their assay using our instrument for very quick detection of E. coli in urinary tract infections – and it is so fast that they can detect E. coli in less than 30 minutes. It doesn't take a lot of imagination to see how this could be duplicated to other infectious disease research - like lung infection or sepsis research for example.
Another consideration when it comes to speed and run times specifically is instrument availability. Most lab’s cyclers are being reserved for part of the day, usually half the day, for PCR experiments. This is because PCR experiments can take close to three hours. If one could reduce that time to ten or twenty minutes, then you would not need such complicated systems – you would only need a few cyclers. And if someone wants to use it, they would simply go. And if it’s not free, you can wait because it will be free shortly.
DS: How have you seen NEXTGENPCR impact a current customer’s research? What is the response you are receiving from current users?
It is absolutely fantastic. We have one user doing detection of Clostridium difficile using downstream ribotyping fragment analysis. Currently, this is a two-day process. Using NEXTGENPCR, they are able to squeeze the whole two days into one day. Of course, they still do the fragment analysis, which takes time after that; you need close to four to six hours. But if you can do your PCR so much faster, then that’s not a problem.
DS: How do you see NEXTGENPCR products making an impact on PCR-based research?
Look at developments that take an established idea and reinvent what that technology does – look at 3D printers. 3D printers are so nice because we all like to build things. 3D printers let your imagination come to life and see things at all angles. NEXTGENPCR may be comparable to that. Currently, if you do PCR in your research and plan a lot of PCR reactions, meaning you spend two to three days per week running PCRs, you have to wait for the results to determine how to continue. With NEXTGENPCR, you can do a PCR in ten minutes, run a gel, and immediately start thinking about what to do next — the whole thinking around your project changes. NEXTGENPCR will affect the way people think a lot – because the results are available earlier, your project will shrink in time, and NEXTGENPCR will give you the opportunity to do other things within your research using this saved time.
DS: NEXTGENPCR is an end-point PCR instrument. What downstream methods have you tested after PCR using the instrument?
We all know all the detection methods; for example, I mentioned ribotyping fragment analysis. Sanger sequencing is another application requiring a PCR step. We have performed a post-PCR high-resolution melting analysis. Sometimes even a simple agarose gel is enough to see your result. If you need a yes or no answer, you could decide to seal the plate with transparent film, mix some dye in, and put the plate on a blue reader. There are a mix of different analysis methods that are now being used with typical end-point PCR instruments, and these methods do not change when using a NEXTGENPCR instrument.
DS: Thank you so much for chatting with us. Canon BioMedical is very happy to be the exclusive US and Canadian distributor of this exciting new technology.