Firstly, you need a traceable container – we recommend 2D-bar coded tubes for this; they are relatively inexpensive, widely available in multiple formats, universally accepted by laboratory instrumentation and can be sourced from a dozen different manufacturers. Each tube carries a two-dimensional Data Matrix bar code on the base which is machine-readable by laboratory automation systems that include suitable scanners. In the workflow, incoming swabs from patients for sequencing are transferred to these coded tubes in racks and all the extraction process are then carried out downstream in this format.
If you have a laboratory liquid handling robot that can be re-purposed for RNA extraction, so much the better. It will need a bar-coded tube rack scanner, usually a filtration manifold or a magnetic bead attachment for the separation and probably a gripper arm. From there you can either use PCR methods or Next-Gen sequencing for identification.
So long as you can track each sample from it’s 2D bar code, the information can then be sent direct to a Sample Management program such as SamplesTM from Ziath. This allows you to store the sample data, its barcode ID and any other information about it that you may wish to input, such as volume, date taken, patient name or a linear bar code ID from the point-of-care tube if you have one. The data is searchable by any “tracking tags” that you have identified, so for example, you can look up all the results from a given day, or all patients called “John Smith” or, indeed, any other filter you need to apply. It’s quick to install and easy to use.
To help you get started Ziath is offering the SamplesTM software free of charge for one user with an indefinite licence with each barcode rack scanner bought until the end of August 2020. The Ziath Mirage rack scanner can be used as stand-alone or it can be integrated with a liquid handling robot from Perkin Elmer, Beckman, Tecan, Hamilton, Agilent or Hi-Res Bio seamlessly and quickly. We are also offering free one-to-one technical advice by telephone or e-mail about how to choose the right tube and how to get your sample tracking set up quickly and smoothly – please contact us at www.ziath.com