• Smart pipetting solutions to accelerate infectious disease testing
    Cormeum Lab Services relies on Integra's pipetting solutions to meet testing demands for infectious diseases and keep up with a changing healthcare environment.

Pipettes

Smart pipetting solutions to accelerate infectious disease testing

Feb 13 2024

Infectious disease testing is an essential tool for diagnosing, treating and monitoring numerous contagious conditions. The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the importance of accurate and timely testing for controlling disease outbreaks on a global scale, as diagnostics laboratories worldwide faced an overwhelming volume of samples and increasing demands for quicker turnaround times. Scientists at Cormeum Lab Services integrated a number of Integra’s innovative pipetting solutions into their liquid handling workflows during the pandemic, as part of an overarching strategy to reduce their turnaround times and expand their testing capabilities.

Cormeum Lab Services is part of Sensiva Health, a cutting-edge clinical testing and healthcare solutions company in Saint Rose, Louisiana, that offers a range of testing methodologies for infectious diseases, from advanced molecular diagnostics to high velocity RT-PCR testing. The laboratory was founded at the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and laboratory staff worked diligently to meet the rapidly increasing demands for testing. This growing pressure on the facility highlighted a need for more efficient processes, and so the lab expanded its range of liquid handling equipment to include 4 VIAFLO electronic pipettes, 4 VOYAGER adjustable tip spacing pipettes and an ASSIST PLUS pipetting robot. Leilani Graffagnini, Quality Manager in Laboratory Operations at Cormeum Lab Services, explained how these new pipettes have helped the lab to exceed expectations: “At first, every protocol conducted in the laboratory was carried out manually but, at the peak of the pandemic, we were receiving an extraordinary number of samples, and we were struggling to keep up. Introducing electronic and automated liquid handling solutions from Integra allowed us to significantly increase the quantity of samples that we could handle each day.”

Industry-leading turnaround times

Integra pipettes quickly became an important part of almost every liquid handling task performed in the laboratory, from transferring samples to 384 well plates to creating wash plates for nucleic acid isolation protocols. The VIAFLO pipettes allow for ergonomic and productive pipetting, while the VOYAGER pipettes have adjustable tip spacing to enable parallel transfer of multiple samples between labware of different formats. In addition, the introduction of the ASSIST PLUS into the lab means that the scientists can program protocols and trust the Integra instrument to carry out the methods automatically, leaving them free to focus on other important tasks. Leilani commented: “Automating our liquid handling workflows and reducing the number of manual steps we perform has had a huge impact on our productivity. Instead of pipetting samples one by one, we can now transfer them row by row, and even perform a lot of our protocols hands-free thanks to the ASSIST PLUS! This has reduced our turnaround times from about 10 hours down to just 5 hours per test. In addition, streamlining our protocols has decreased staff stress levels, improving morale and leaving us free to work on self-improvement and training for ongoing professional development.”

Quality is key

Precision and accuracy are equally as important as throughput when it comes to infectious disease testing. Luckily, the enhanced efficiency provided by the new pipettes has not come at the expense of quality. Leilani added: “When we were performing our protocols manually, there was always the risk of human error but, since implementing the Integra pipettes, the accuracy and reliability of our testing protocols has improved dramatically. Integra technicians visit our lab frequently to carry out quarterly maintenance and calibration for the pipettes. They work quickly and efficiently and, as a result, our instruments experience very little downtime. Regular calibration gives us peace of mind that everything is working as it should, so that we can continue to provide high quality results.”

A forward-thinking solution

Cormeum Lab Services is dedicated to staying at the forefront of diagnostics, and the accuracy and efficiency of Integra’s versatile range of pipettes has allowed the laboratory to stay on top of testing demands, and even expand its range of tests to include urine, wound, nail, women’s health and STI testing. Leilani concluded: “Thanks to the Integra pipettes, we can now offer a variety of tests to a large patient cohort. For example, we provide testing for many care homes and clinics, serving a large population of elderly patients who are particularly vulnerable to urinary tract infections and respiratory diseases. We have also added antibiotic resistance testing to our portfolio, as it is important for clinicians to know how best to treat these patients going forwards. The new pipetting solutions from Integra have really helped the company to expand its range and volume of testing to match our clients’ needs, and to keep up with a constantly changing healthcare environment.”

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