Robotics has helped streamline the Paternity Testing industry. Fully integrated robotic applications can help free up a DNA analysts time so that they have more time to focus on other things throughout the DNA laboratory. It also helps streamline and hasten procedures so that backlog can be limited. At Paternity Testing Corporation, we use a Tecan liquid handler to perform many tasks that were once performed by DNA analysts. The Tecan has the ability to carry out many of the steps in the organic extraction process of samples containing DNA. It adds extraction buffer to buccal swabs containing DNA and ethanol at different stages. It also performs transfers from the aqueous layer (which contains DNA) to a new 96 deep well plate where the process will continue, leaving the organic layer. It does this with the aid of liquid sensors in the tips that detect how far the tip is in the well to make sure it only gets the top aqueous layer and not the interface or organic layer. It also transfers the eluted DNA to a storage plate used during amplification. It is just as accurate (if not more) than a DNA analyst when performing transfers. The Tecan robot works seamlessly with the DNA analysts at the lab and allows them to leave the samples under its control while they are able to complete other tasks. It has streamlined the process and ensured consistency between samples used for parternity testing.
The company Qiagen developed the BioRobot EZ1 for the automatic extraction and purification of DNA. The robot is able to extract samples from many different sources (like traditional extraction) including, blood, hair roots, cigarette butts, etc. The Qiagen robot uses magnetic bead technology to extract and purify DNA. DNA in samples is isolated by binding to silica surface of the magnetic beads. The quality of results achieved is comparable to traditional extraction and the system saves time because there is no need for further DNA purification or concentration steps after the automated extraction. The entire process takes about 15 to 20 minutes (as opposed to several hours with organic extraction). Reagents are also supplied in cartridges to expedite the process and eliminate time spent making reagents in the lab. Robotic applications like the two listed here help increase overall consistency, efficiency, and productivity in the paternity testing laboratory (Anslinger).
Robots also eliminate the likelihood of human error. When a robot processes DNA samples there is little human intervention and therefore little opportunity for human error. A human can use the wrong solution or pipette into the wrong tube. When a robot is performing the extraction, there is no opportunity for those types of mistakes. The robot performs the task just as it has been programmed to do. It cannot accidentally use the wrong solution and it always pipettes into the correct tube. The use of robots helps ensure that no errors are made in the laboratory.
Anslinger, K., B. Bayer, B. Rolf, W. Keil, and W. Eisenmenger. "Application of the BioRobot EZ1 in a Forensic Laboratory." Legal Medicine 7.3 (2005): 164-68. Print.
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Paternity Testing Corporation, is a provider of high quality, guaranteed AABB accredited paternity testing.
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