Monday, May 17, 2010

Multiplexing in Baltimore

The 7th annual Planet xMap 2010 symposium was held in Baltimore, Maryland on May 12th through the 14th. This meeting, sponsored by Luminex Corporation, brings together end users and partners that use the patented Luminex bead technology. This technology, based on flow cytometry utilizes either polystyrene or magnetic spheres as the solid substrate and allows multiple analytes (up to 500) to be measured in the same well. BioTek was present with a booth displaying three different washers that provide three levels of automation of the wash steps involved in these assays. The theme of the meeting was as one would expect multiplex analysis of samples using both protein-based and nucleic acid-based assays.

The meeting was opened by Dain Leigh from Luminex, who described the major highlights of Luminex in the last year, including the success of their new reader the FlexMap3D reader, their acquisition of BSD Robotics and their agreements with Northrup Grumman to work on biothreat testing. Each day the meeting was opened with a plenary speaker presentation to the entire group. After which the symposium broke up into dual parallel tracks. One track had a number of end-users describe their work in the filed of diagnostics, while the other track provided presentations in the life science research fields.

The first day was opened by the renowned Nobel laureate James D. Watson, who along with Francis Crick discoverer of the DNA double helix. Dr. Watson, every funny and controversial regaled the audience with excerpts from his Book “Avoid Boring People: Lessons from a Life of Science”. Using humorous anecdotes he provides a number of rules for a young scientist to follow in order to be successful. It’s not every day that you can meet such a legend of science and of the world.

The second day was opened by Linette Granen from the APHL - Association of Public Health Laboratories. She described the structure of the health organization as well as the role that APHL plays in regards to screening and monitoring disease in the US. She also described the role that APHA and Luminex played in the testing and monitoring H1N1 influenza cases.

Day three was opened by Dr. Todd Golub from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. He described the use of multiplex screening approaches towards providing surveys of cancer genomes and proteomes and matching them to small molecule profiles. Using Luminex beads his lab has created multiplex phosphotyrosine assay that can provide profiles of the phosphorylation status of most human phosphotyrosine kinases simultaneously. Using this technology they have discovered aberrant activation of SRC in glioblastoma.

As I mentioned the theme of the symposia was multiplexing, which was certainly appropriate. With the different tracks, all of which had interesting presentations, one really needed to multiplex one’s self in order to catch all the information.

Do you have a need or desire to run multiplex assays? Do use Luminex technology assays in your research? If so, what assays do you run?

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