Growing levels of automation in molecular laboratories are having an incredible impact on how efficiently and flexibly researchers can work. Automated sample preparation and purification can be faster than a manual process, more repeatable, and more accurate. Last year, Merja Mehto of Thermo Fisher Scientific shared how their latest product line is making high precision automation available at a size suitable for any lab bench. To find out more about the real world applications of this technology, including exciting new avenues such as RNA purification, Product Manager Nathan Harris shared some of the exciting ways that scientists and laboratories are fitting this technology into their existing work.

king fisher presto thermo fisher scientific

The King Fisher Presto offers powerful bench top automation at a reduced footprint

Thermo Scientific™ KingFisher™ Presto brings an amazing level of precision to sample purification. Could you tell us a bit more about some of the lab and clinical applications that you are targeting with the Presto system?

With the Presto, the focus has been on automating the extraction of genomic DNA (or cell-free DNA) from non-invasive sample types.  Specifically, whole blood, plasma, and buccal swabs are where we are most interested.  It should be noted that extraction of RNA from some of these samples is under development too.

Many of your existing technologies are capable of handling liquid biopsies or FFPE samples. What are the benefits to your users of transferring these capabilities over to the Presto system?

The samples are of high value in cancer research and their usage in studies is increasing substantially year over year.  However, large volumes of plasma and paraffin embedded samples are viewed as cumbersome and not amenable to high-throughput processing. The Presto combined with liquid handling will allow labs increase their throughput while eliminating much of the human element from the process of nucleic acid extraction from these precious samples.

A key challenge facing molecular biologists at the moment is working effectively with RNA, which can be a more fragile molecule to purify from biological samples. How can your technology address these issues? 

The scientists that developed the chemistry and protocols for the Presto are the same ones that developed the original MagMAX kits at Ambion (The RNA Company).  The same understanding and care in working with RNA samples will be built-in to the solutions provided on the Presto.

What do you considered to be the most exciting potential application for King Fisher Presto?

The ability to automate the isolation of both RNA and DNA from the same sample.  Scientists want to extract as much information as possible from a single sample, especially in cancer research where tumor heterogeneity is a concern.  Extraction of both nucleic acids from a single sample can be a tedious process but with a liquid handler integrated with the Presto and our MagMAX solutions, we should be able to reduce the hands-on time significantly.      

What are some of the key challenges that you would like to see King Fisher Presto, or the wider King Fisher product line, address in the future?

The expansion of the Presto to serve as a key component in a comprehensive solution beyond nucleic acid extraction.  Protein purification for proteomics and library preparation for next-generation sequencing would be two clear areas where this system has potential to aid scientists as they advance their work.