Therapy Acceleration Laboratory (TAL)
If you are a CI / PI of an upcoming clinical trial, with accompanying laboratory studies, you may want to consider using a new state-of-the-art GCP Therapy Acceleration Laboratory (TAL) based in the Medical Research Council Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine (MRC WIMM) to do the laboratory studies.
The TAL will analyse human samples from national and international Phase I to Phase III trials of novel targeted therapies that maximise patient impact, transform understanding of disease biology, dissect mechanisms of action of therapies and mechanisms of response. It will be open to all PIs in Oxford from mid 2022. It will offer a wide selection of next generation sequencing genetic and deep phenotyping assays on cells and tissues, work closely with the WIMM single cell and imaging facilities and support long term bio-banking of nucleic acids and viable cells. Once operational, the TAL will be accredited to ISO-17025.
The laboratory will work with PIs to add value to a clinical trial, offering assays that allow patient selection at the start of a trial, patient stratification into different therapy arms during the trial, validation of secondary endpoints for more rapid trials and exploratory endpoints. Careful analysis can also provide mechanistic data on how therapies work in patients, providing confidence to regulators.
The TAL will use advanced, highly automated equipment to process patient samples in an efficient, high-throughput, ethical and fully regulated manner. To meet the exacting regulatory standards, all the equipment will be used only for designated assays within the TAL. The equipment will be operated to highly-detailed, standard operating procedures by highly-trained, dedicated TAL staff. To reduce human error, there will be extensive use of automated processing and robotic liquid handling equipment. All processes will be integrated within a laboratory information management system (LIMS) to allow for sample and barcode tracking throughout all workflows and linking of sample data and results.
The following specialised equipment has been purchased for the TAL:
- Cell counter for differential analysis of peripheral blood and bone marrow samples (Sysmex XN-350).
- Automated nucleic acid extraction robot for extracting DNA and RNA from patient blood or bone marrow samples, as well as cell suspensions (Qiagen QIAsymphony), including full traceability from original sample to extracted nucleic acid into barcoded vials.
- Automated liquid handling robots for a wide range of molecular assays (Beckman Biomek i7), including a full walk-away solution for the preparation of sequencing-ready targeted sequencing libraries from patient DNA, as well as set-up of PCR reactions, DNA quantitation and normalisation, plate transfers, aliquoting and dilutions, bead-based DNA clean-ups, among others. There is a strict separation of pre- and post-PCR areas with dedicated machines in each area to prevent any contamination.
- Genetic Analyzer to perform DNA mutation fragment analysis or Sanger Sequencing (Applied Biosystems SeqStudio).
- Next Generation Sequencing instrument for various DNA or RNA sequencing applications (Illumina NextSeq 550), e.g. screening of patient samples for disease causing genetic mutations using targeted gene panels, molecular follow-up and residual disease assessment of patient samples, gene expression analysis using RNA sequencing, testing for other genetic and epigenetic biomarkers of disease severity and therapy response.
- Smaller equipment for nucleic acid quantitation and quality control: fluorometer (Qubit 3) and plate reader (Fluoroskan) for DNA quantitation, automated electrophoresis instrument for DNA quality control (Agilent 4200 TapeStation)
- Clinical flow cytometers for multi-parameter analysis of cell surface and intracellular markers on patient cells at disease diagnosis and throughout treatment to assess treatment response (Beckman Coulter DxFlex).
- Custom-designed liquid handling “biobanking” robot to process human samples and purify cells for long term storage in liquid nitrogen for future research (Hamilton), with integrated centrifuge, robotic arm and capper/decapper for automatically applying and removing screw caps to/from cryovials.
Senior Laboratory Manager