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Custom laboratory automation system for genetic research

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LG Motion has worked with nanoTherics to develop a custom laboratory automation system that is used in genetic research.

Custom laboratory automation system for genetic researchTransfection is a process used to introduce biomaterials, such as DNA or RNA, into a cell when performing genetic research. This powerful technique enables scientists to investigate these biomaterials for therapeutic or research purposes with widespread benefits.

Traditional transfection methods include both chemical and physical techniques that can have disadvantages such as low transfection efficiency and poor cell viability. Magnet-assisted transfection, however, offers many advantages. Also known as Magnetofection, this method involves binding DNA or RNA to biodegradable iron oxide magnetic nanoparticles, which are together drawn into cells using magnetism. At the forefront of this technology, UK based nanoTherics Limited has pioneered this non-invasive process further, with proven speed and efficiency benefits using magnet arrays that oscillate beneath the cells to be transfected.

LG Motion has worked closely with nanoTherics since 2007, helping the company to develop the enabling oscillation stage of its technology for its magnefect-nano and magnefect-LT transfection devices using a technology process, patented by nanoTherics, that applies the proprietary oscillating magnet arrays in combination with specially prepared magnetic nanoparticles.

Oscillating magnet array design

Initially LG Motion supplied standard motorised positioning stages and motion controls to nanoTherics for research studies to evaluate and develop the oscillation principle. As the project developed from a research base to a commercial venture, the design of the oscillating magnet array was progressively optimised for both price and performance to ensure that nanoTherics' stringent requirements for operational life and high reliability could be guaranteed with competitive cost for the portable, benchtop devices that has culminated in the commercialisation of the magnefect-nano and the recent launch of the magnefect-LT.

The precise oscillation profile is now delivered using a small microstepping motor and lead screw system with a carriage plate supported in a linear bearing, much the same as a traditional linear positioning stage but with strategically modified mechanics. The combined development project also enabled LG Motion to include the design and manufacture of other mechanical hardware components, such as the base frame and interchangeable well plate arrays that are used for holding samples.

In addition, the optimisation process included the supply of a packaged stepping drive with a modified control that includes only the features required for the application - which further reduces costs. The stepping drive is interfaced to a PC using a GUI developed by nanoTherics or, for the entry-level magnefect-LT version, via a simple keypad with a four-line alphanumeric display. For all systems, programming is straightforward with flexibility for coping with different cell types, and uncomplicated user-defined protocols for quick and easy selection of transfection conditions; the operator simply defines the essential parameters of oscillation frequency, displacement, the number of cycles and cycle time.

The nanoTherics nanomagnetic transfection method is also completely scalable and LG Motion has worked on special larger oscillation stages for high-throughput screening.

Contact LG Motion for more information about its capability for developing custom laboratory automation systems.

 
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