So did we! Hepatitis (A, B, C, D, & E) are viruses with B & C being the most Infectious and prevalent globally. As we belatedly pay respect to 2017’s World Hepatitis Day, it’s important to note that approximately 325 million people suffer from chronic Hepatitis. It impacts people across the globe: from Pakistan, to Africa and the baby boomers in the US. The World Health Organization published a global health sector strategy in 2016 to prevent and control the virus in the global population.

As with HIV/AIDS, Spot On Sciences has been increasingly active, working with a number of organizations to validate the use of the HemaSpot device for the collection of Dried Blood Spot (DBS) enabling easier testing across the diagnostic cascade: screening, confirmatory, viral load, as well as genotyping.

In the near future, Spot On Sciences will be launching a new global health initiative to help address the diagnosis and treatment of infectious disease across the globe. We’re proud to be a part of this effort to help grow awareness and be part of the arsenal that fights debilitating

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When I first started my career I was so excited to be working in a laboratory. I was young and there were a lot of people like me with the same goal. Getting paid to do science. All of the assays were manual from sample aliquotting to sample submission. What was automated though was sample analysis. Put your samples in a tray, insert it into the autosampler, press RUN and “poof,” the next morning my data was there and the results looked great. Well, great most of the time.

Then something started to happen. These big black boxes started showing up amid whispers of “What is that?” and “I guess I’m going to be replaced.” They were the first liquid handlers I ever saw and they were hard to program and hard to validate. So I was safe for a while as those monstrosities gathered dust. However, after pipetting for the umpteenth time, I dusted off the liquid handler and started with the first step of the procedure. And after a while it could do the first step and then the second step. Slowly but surely that robot did all the steps and I had a validated assay done by a robot.

Was I ever afraid a laboratory robot was going to take my job? In the beginning, yes. Did I ever see a laboratory robot take anyone’s job? No. So don’t be afraid of automation. Embrace it because it could be doing your dirty work for you. If your robot produces favorable results, then you can take all the credit.

A few years have gone by and I have worked with many automated systems. But now I have the opportunity to work on a team to develop a sample automation robot for HemaSpot-HF thanks to additional funding from DARPA.

It takes me about a minute to excise a sample from the device. The robot plans to do it in 10 seconds. So we will start with the first step and then the second step. And at the end we will have a validated robot that can take a sample from HemaSpot-HF and place it in a tube. When it is ready, sometime in early 2017, I plan to have a head to head competition to see who’s faster. I’m not letting this robot take my job and I’m sure it won’t take your job either.

So don’t be afraid of automation, embrace it. There’s no bigger satisfaction, for me at least, then watching a machine do my work for me, better and faster.

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Happy Birthday Robert Guthrie!

A Salute to the Father of Dried Blood Spot Technology

We dedicate this month’s blog post to the memory of the acknowledged pioneer in dried blood spot (DBS) technology, Dr. Robert Guthrie. He would have celebrated his 97thbirthday this month if he were still with us (died in 1995) and I’m sure he’d be pleased at the amazing progress that’s been made inDBSeven within the last decade.

Spot On Sciences, Inc, of course, owes a lot to Dr. Guthrie. He’s the one responsible for the collection of whole blood on specially designed filter paper, commonly known as “Guthrie cards.” He also developed the well known bacterial inhibition assay used to screen infants for phenylketonuria (known as PKU) at birth. This newborn screening program for PKU has been in place since the early 1960’s and is still being used around the world as a way to test for a number of treatable conditions.

Wikis and web-sources agree that Guthrie’s motivation for developing the Guthrie test was a personal one. He became interested in causes and prevention of mental retardation after his son, John, was born disabled in 1947. Later, when his niece was diagnosed with PKU he turned his attention to preventable causes.

Today,DBS continues to be used in newborn screening thanks, in large part, to major advances in technology that make it possible to screen for many conditions using only one test. In the U.S., a system of testing is in place that allows the majority of states to screen for over fifty conditions.

Thank you, Dr. Guthrie!

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