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Key Factors and Considerations in Automated Nucleic Acid Extraction

Switch 8 Automated Extraction Unit
Automated Extraction Unit

Nucleic acid extraction is an important step that can have a big effect on experimental results. Making sure that sample quality is high is an essential part of the process and ensuring reliable results is key. Automating nucleic acid extraction addresses challenges and has many benefits including reducing hands-on time, eliminating sample errors and increasing efficiency and reliability. Automation can help address many issues that manual extraction faces. Selecting the best method for your specific application is crucial. You can read more information on different methods in our previous post “Different Types of DNA Extraction Methods”.

Nucleic acid extraction is a crucial step. The essential requirements for nucleic acid extraction are that it should be simple, fast and should have high sensitivity as well as high specificity. Preferably, there are no requirements for special equipment, knowledge or skills. The resulting nucleic acid should be pure and easily modified for amplification. Plus, the process should be harmless and should not have any contamination for a pure result. Also, it should have good reproducibility and safety.

Each sample type will have different requirements and procedures. The crucial extraction step can determine the sensitivity of a PCR assay as well. Each lab will have to find their optimal method and protocol depending on the type of samples they are using and the most successful method for them. Sample type will have a direct impact on the purity and yield obtained. It may take trying different kits or customizing kits or protocols to get the best results.

Another important factor that affects the efficiency of nucleic acid extraction is contaminants. The extraction method used will determine the influence of the contaminants. The Maelstrom Series of extraction machines eliminates cross contamination, unlike other techniques, the mixing technology controls the speed via a rotary apparatus to avoid liquid splashing during the high throughput extraction process.

Other important factors to consider are the preparation method, intended use to make sure it is suitable for the intended downstream application, the size of the sample being analyzed, the expected amount of DNA/RNA to be purified from the sample, the simplicity of the method, quality, time and cost. The method should require minimal pre-preparation and less effort from lab personnel.

Automation simplifies the extraction process and increases reproducibility. Plus less training is needed and the technicians have less stress as the machine does the bulk of the work. Less mistakes are made and the accuracy is better. The steps proceed automatically and significantly reduce the turnaround time. The lab avoids mistakes like pipetting errors and samples can be analyzed at the same time. Additionally, quality control monitoring is simplified, whereas in comparison the manual method needs intense quality control monitoring. The most appropriate instrument can be selected depending on the laboratory’s workload from low-throughput to high-throughput.

Automated extraction is fast, error and contamination-free and also gives you the flexibility to work on other modules and increase throughput. However, not all automated extraction units are equal. The Maelstrom automated extraction systems are faster & less hands-on than the leading competitors' automated extraction systems. Plus, they are walk-away solutions, push start and the machine does the rest. The systems also have ready-to use reagent kits and custom kits available as well as pre-programmed protocols and customizable protocols. The systems enable you to save time and money.

One of the most asked questions is the cost aspect of automated methods. However, the expense is not as large as most think. Request a ROI analysis and see how you can reap the benefits of lab automation. Our analysis often shows that you will actually save money in no time.

It is important that the system is ideal for use with the samples your lab is using. It is important to carefully evaluate the performance of the method and validate it. Based on your starting material you need to choose, list and test the possible methods that will work. The basic criteria that the method should include is efficient extraction, high yield, successful removal of contaminants and isolation of high quality and high purity DNA/RNA.

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