Researchers at Inserm's Institut Europeen de Chimie et Biologie (IECB) in Bordeaux, France, have announced that they have been using Tecan's Freedom EVO® Workstation to develop automated in vitro selection techniques for identifying and isolating aptamers.
These short, single-stranded oligonucleotides specifically interact with high affinity proteins of interest for diagnostic procedures or in vivo imaging of, for example, viral RNA targets.
Manually performing the systematic evolution of ligands by exponential enrichment (SELEX) method to identify aptamers is extremely labor-intensive; each round takes two to three days and eight to 15 repeats of each round are required to isolate the DNA/RNA candidates with the highest affinities for the targets.
Jean-Jacques Toulme's group at the IECB has automated the method using Tecan's Freedom EVO 150 Workstation, equipped with robotic manipulator and liquid handling arms, as well as various peripheral separation, heating and shaking modules.
Fanny Vella, PhD (Engineer), explained, "Automation allows us to complete two SELEX rounds per day and we can run selections against at least four targets in parallel."
"We are currently trying to identify ligands that inhibit viral genes and are focusing on aptamers targeted to elements of viral RNA that are functionally involved in the expression of viral genes and, subsequently, development of the virus."
"Being able to control the expression of a viral gene without affecting the host's gene expression would provide an ideal way to prevent development of the virus."
"We will then be able to validate these molecules as targets of therapeutic interest for pathogenic viruses such as HIV and hepatitis C."