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Kiestra Lab Automation: New Advanced Technologies in Microbiology Diagnostics

In the good old days, the microbiology laboratory used to be a labor intensive place equipped with incubators and microscopes. Microbiologists were patient scientists waiting at least 24 hours before their isolated cultures were grown enough for identification. Today, laboratory medicine is developing at a rapid pace and the microbiology lab is having its own evolution going on. Lab automation is emerging and processes are done faster than ever with more standardized and comparable tests. Samples are barcoded before they enter a string of analyzers measuring mass spectra, fluorescence and specific DNA sequences. Almost all serology tests run in multiplex (simultaneously measure multiple analytes) and high throughput machines that can produce about 1000 results in an hour. These are intelligent machines that can automatically expand tests depending on earlier results, for example repeat, reflex or add-on extra tests.

One of the companies involved in this laboratory revolution is Kiestra lab automation BV based in the Netherlands. They created a system to cover the whole process from inoculation to identification automatically.

Their slogan “It’s the sample that moves!” involves many features. The system starts with the ‘InoqulA,’ a full automatic inoculation machine, in which any fluid specimen will automatically be opened-inoculated-spread-sorted and transported to the incubators. This can be done at a high through-put rate of up to 400 inoculations per hour. It uses a new technology with magnetic rolling beads to streak the plates, this creates enough single colonies in various specified directions.

Your preferred identification and susceptibility methodology ( e.g. biochemical, Malditof, disc diffusion, etc. ) can be integrated within the system. A monitor dashboard can be installed in the laboratory in order to optimize workload management. In a blink of the eye each supervisor can see how many digital reads have to be done at which hour.

In order to create a 24/7 non stop laboratory, incubation, processing and digital imaging is performed non-stop day and night. Having digital images of each culture makes it possible to view them remotely. The use of smart-phones within bacteriology comes within reach: the ReadA Browser on the iPhone makes it possible to check your cultures from just about anywhere.

The company has developed a very informative video on the system, which includes a demonstration of automated sampling and spreading of the inoculum using the magnetic beads. You can view the video by CLICKING HERE.

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