The COVID-19 crisis has shown us the enormous importance of health and medical infrastructure. How do we achieve a testing infrastructure that is adequately prepared for such events as the current pandemic, and offers fast and precise analysis and diagnosis options? In addition to a new understanding of public health, the rapidly advancing digitization and networking will also have a strong influence on the future potential of medical diagnostics. It is likely that transdisciplinary collaborations between science and medicine will lead to new approaches and an integrated understanding of medicine. The need to increase the efficiency of bioanalysis contrasts with the trend towards continuously differentiated individual diagnostics. In addition, there is the critical factor of time.
Improvement of signal strength & detection speed in bioanalysis
Optical detection plays an important part in most technological applications in the fields of medical science and life science. Infection diagnostics have to contend with the relentless evolution of pathogens. That creates a constant demand for suitable test methods, which, in turn, depend on achieving the right combination of sensitivity and specificity. That is why the maximization of light signals and the suppression or avoidance of undesired background light are extremely important for bioanalysis. Time is also of the essence in situations such as a pandemic, and having a high throughput is vitally important.
High throughput test for SARS-CoV-2
ACKTAR’s black coatings are incorporated into an innovative project by a company specializing in molecular diagnostics. The newly developed multiplex assay for SARS-CoV-2 is a real-time RT-PCR test designed to be fully automated for high throughput. It can deliver results in just over an hour and load up to 288 patient samples in a continuous random-access workflow, resulting in high-throughput on-demand testing. The multi-sample microfluidic reader systems are scalable to meet the flexible requirements of a clinical laboratory.
ACKTAR’s black-coated carrier materials and system components are characterized by near-zero autofluorescence. This property allows for a higher signal-to-noise ratio in fluorescencent RNA quantification and an overall increase in lab productivity.
Higher signal quality in fluorescence RNA quantification
The in vitro technology “reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR)” for gene expression uses fluorescencent pulses for signal recognition. The fluorescence signals are either measured in real time or their accumulation is visualized and used to verify the presence specific DNA fragments. This method requires the lowest possible background fluorescence or intrinsic fluorescence from the carrier materials and system components in order not to impair signal detection, and to be able to exclude external signals. Because of their very low intrinsic fluorescence, ACKTAR products can guarantee just that. The reduction of false signals caused by autofluorescence to a minimum leads to the best possible contrast and to an increase in signal intensity and quality.
ACKTAR’s black-coated components such as microarray slides, perforated plates or microtiter plates, as well as the coating of instrument components directly in the optical beam’s path, significantly improve signal quality.
Spectrofluorometer measurement of the fluorescence return photons
Measurements with a spectrofluorometer show the low number of fluorescence return photons collected per pulse. The diagrams opposite show a particularly significant contrast with the results from conventional black coatings in the ultraviolet spectrum.
Mobile bioanalysis – real time PCR for DNA & RNA sequencing (COVID–19)
Making health and diagnostic tools mobile and developing portable bioanalytical instruments can help reduce costs, increase efficiency and speed up analysis. Currently, black-coated components from ACKTAR are in use in a portable test system for COVID-19. In order to detect and contain the spread SARS-CoV-2 virus in the general population, RNA sequencing can be carried out using real-time PCR – completely independent of location. Continuous screenings, both in individuals and through the population, can characterize the virus and immune response to it, and evaluate the effectiveness of vaccines and therapies. Treatment options and information about co-infections can be derived.
Reduction of fluorescence noise in fluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry
In fluorescence microscopy, too, ACKTAR products ensure that the noise from background fluorescence is reduced to the minimum possible.
In order to make specific structures visible, light-emitting dyes are applied to the objects and samples. Especially in cases where the sample’s light signal is weak, intrinsic fluorescence of the carrier materials and slides would make detection very difficult, since it would overlay or falsify the desired signals.
ACKTAR products can also be used in flow cytometry.