Advances in Real-Time PCR Throughput and Workflows Bridge Gaps in Translational Research in the Area of Reproductive Medicine
by Life Technologies - 03/26/12
Life Technologies recently sat down with Dr. Nathan Treff, Director of Molecular Biology Research at Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey
Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey is one of the largest IVF (in vitro fertilization) clinics in this area of the United States. One of the big problems with in vitro fertilization is multiple gestations. There are a lot of potential complications, and it's very costly to their healthcare system.
Their primary focus has been on the genetics of the embryo. The most common genetic abnormality in human embryos is aneuploidy, which is essentially the wrong number of chromosomes. It's also the leading genetic cause of miscarriages and developmental delay in newborns. So, their focus has been to validate a new methodology which allows them to identify whether or not an embryo has chromosomal abnormalities.
One of the challenges with evaluating genetics of the human embryo is having very little material to work with; in some cases, it is only a single cell or less. This really poses difficulty when trying to quantify nucleic acids. When Dr. Nathan Treff first started, Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey primarily focused on applications involving microarray technology. One of the challenges with using microarray is the amount of time it takes to conduct the experiment.
Real-time PCR offered an excellent solution because of its rapid nature. Dr. Nathan Treff said, "The speed of qPCR is really important to our research because when it's applied clinically, we have very little amount of time to obtain a result. In addition, our focus has really been on accuracy of methodologies, and we've found that quantitative Real-Time PCR is significantly more accurate than data obtained from a microarray."
During the transition from microarray technology to qPCR, Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey evaluated a large number of instrumentations and chemistries. TaqMan® technology at the time was relatively new, but they had already established a way in which they could buy assays that had been predesigned. The availability of predesigned assays really allowed them to conduct experiments in a rapid fashion. They evaluated a number of high-throughput instruments including the OpenArray (Real-Time PCR System), the BioMark™ (HD System from Fluidigm) as well as a system from Roche.
The conclusion they came to at that point was that they could use the 7900 and perform fewer reactions, but with higher quality results. Of course, more recently, the introduction of the QuantStudio™ 12K Flex, has also offered a new opportunity to increase throughput.