The Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics of the National Cancer Institute selects HighRes Biosolutions to organize legacy specimen collections

April 6, 2011

The Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG) of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has selected HighRes Biosolutions to automate the organization of NCI’s library of approximately 8 million of its biological samples that are stored at -80°C. HighRes’ automation will inventory and collate the existing library to enable storage by study and material type to facilitate specimen withdrawals for research activities. Biological specimen containers will be briefly processed at -20⁰C by state-of-the-art automated vision, identification, labeling, and tube-picking systems followed by a rapid return to their normal -80°C storage environment.

NCI’s -80°C library is currently stored mainly in mechanical upright and chest freezers, so HighRes’ mobile TundraStore™ freezers will move biological samples from NCI’s existing freezers to a HighRes tube processing system in a -20°C cold room. The TundraStores, which have been developed for compound storage and biobanking applications, will keep samples at -20°C during transport. The tube sorting and defragmenting functions are performed by an adaptive high-speed tube picker. Since the library is populated by a variety of container types and label configurations (as is typical of most legacy collections) a state-of-the-art vision system will determine the size and type of each tube on-the-fly. In addition, a special imaging system will capture and archive an image of the entire wrap-around label for each tube. Any barcodes can be read in any orientation on the tube. If the barcodes are unreadable, the image is flagged and the operator can comfortably and conveniently examine the label remotely without having to enter the cold room.

An added advantage to working with the HighRes system is that it will enable studies that have experienced specimen withdrawals over the years to be consolidated eliminating open spaces in freezers. DCEG expects to reclaim a significant amount of freezer space as a result of implementing the HighRes robotic system.

About HighRes Biosolutions

HighRes Biosolutions, Inc. is the leader in the design and construction of innovative robotic systems and laboratory devices used by pharmaceutical, biotech, and academic research laboratories. HighRes accelerates drug discovery, high throughput genotyping, siRNA screening, next-generation sequencing sample prep, biorepository science and molecular diagnostics with highly flexible, expandable and modular integrated systems, bench-top devices and consumables that are easily configured (and reconfigured) to create research environments conducive to achieving breakthrough results.