Deutsch Intern
Institute for Virology and Immunobiology

B. Laboratory automation

B. Laboratory automation

Development of a small-scale automatic robot handling line for molecular pathogen diagnostics

In cooperation with BRAND (Wertheim), Roche Diagnostics (Mannheim) and an external software developer (Sebastian Arnd, Berlin) an integrated small scale fully automatic diagnostic robot handling line for the purification, detection, and quantification of human pathogens was developed.

The Roche MagNa Pure 24 system was selected as a fully automatic nucleotide acid purification system, which is capable of tracking sample ID and barcodes. Furthermore, it can be integrated into the lab information system and delivers result files back to the system. The Liquid Handling Station (LHS) from BRAND was chosen as a pipetting device for the PCR setup. Due to its small size, it helps saving lab space, and since it contains just a few moving parts, it provides low maintenance costs. Both, the MagNa Pure 24 and the LHS are walkaway devices, which on the one hand free technicians’ labor time and on the other hand, ensure high reproducibility of sample purification and of the PCR setup. Finally, the Roche LightCycler 480 II was selected as diagnostic PCR Cycler with six different channels to perform complex diagnostic multiplex PCRs. Roche LightMix® Modular assays were chosen as PCR reagents, due to their extensive collection for the diagnostics of all significant pathogens.


The new middleware software package can automatically control the PCRs setup by the LHS with up to eleven different Master-mixes on one plate. Furthermore, it adds all control reactions to the PCR setup and creates a PCR plate layout, which can be loaded into the LightCycler 480 II software. This, the automatic sample barcode pass through, and the PCR setup helps to avoid sample interchange while pipetting with the LHS ensure a reproducible and pipetting error-free sample amplification. Besides, the automatic robot handling line frees precious technicians’ labor time, reducing laboratory sample costs.