Applied Natural Sciences from Fontys University
The research group of Applied Natural Sciences from Fontys University (The Netherlands) focuses on five research fields: Thin Films and Functional Materials (Dr. Jan Bernards), Solar Fuels (Dr. Peter Thüne), Detection and Measurement (Dr. Urs Wyder), Polymers (Ing. Guido Smets) and Life Sciences (Dr. Joost Schoeber and Dr. Anne Loonen).
The Life Science group mainly focuses on the development, optimization, and validation of molecular diagnostic assays to improve health. Currently, the group is working on developing innovative molecular assays to screen for sexually transmitted diseases in patients and wastewater (mirror of society).
Anouk Poppelaars is doing her bachelor’s thesis at the Life Science department and her main goal is to develop an ultrafast next-generation PCR protocol for the detection of Chlamydia trachomatis (CT). To show her research results, she presented a poster at the BAMA Symposium 2022, organized by the Microbes in Health and Diseases (MHD), University of Groningen. Anouk won three different Prizes: A poster award, and jury and audience prizes.
Discover more about the project below!
Clinical samples were collected and prepared for detection in 96 well plates, which were sealed in the Plate sealer and incorporated into the NextGenPCR. It is an instrument developed by Molecular Biology Systems (MBS), which elimiantes ramping rates when changing temperatures. Therefore, the instrument goes from melting to annealing temperatures in less than 0.1 second. As a consequence, the higher speed enables to process more samples with the best solution for high throughput. Furthermore, it consumes only 25 watts, so helps researchers to save energy costs.
NextGenPCR is used in the project for the amplification of CT genetic material. The amplification signal is read with the FLUOstar plate reader from BMG Labtech and later analysed with Excel.
Due to NextGenPCR, the time-to-result for CT from patient material has been accelerated compared to conventional real-time PCR. By using exactly the same protocol as the conventional real-time PCR on the NextGenPCR platform results were available 30% faster. This can be explained by the fact that the NextGenPCR system (shown in Figure 1) transfers the PCR plates to different heating blocks at set temperatures (no heating and cooling is necessary).
Nevertheless, after the optimization of NextGenPCR protocols for CT, an additional decrease was accomplished resulting in CT results after approximately 17 minutes. The findings highlighted above show that NextGenPCR can provide PCR results for CT faster. It could accelerate the diagnosis of CT infections in patients, and create a more patient-friendly process. Patients have to see the doctor only once, reducing travel but also time-to-results. This can possibly result in prescribing (correct) treatment after short waiting times at a sexual health center).
With reducing PCR cycles from 45 to 30, and therefore having shorter protocol time, RFU remains high significantly. NTC= No template control.