Deana Martin: So today we're speaking with Nathan Tanner who is a senior scientist here at NEB. Hi Nathan.
Nathan Tanner: Hi Deana.
Deana Martin: Thanks for joining me.
Nathan Tanner: Sure.
Deana Martin: So could you start by telling me a little bit about what you do here at NEB?
Nathan Tanner: Sure. So I'm a senior scientist in our research department. My lab focuses on reagents, tools, and new enzymes and methods for molecular diagnostics. Really focused on simplified point of care applications. So we do a lot of isothermal amplification and things like that.
Deana Martin: Okay. And is it common for research labs at NEB to collaborate with outside laboratories?
Nathan Tanner: Yeah, absolutely. We do this all the time, so we not only make the enzymes, but we use them ourselves every day. So we have a lot of experience with using them and we know a lot about our tools and we very much love to share with people who are building new technology. You can't communicate everything about an enzyme just on the label. So all of the stuff we know about it, we really like to share with people.
Deana Martin: Okay. Could you share a story about a collaboration that you were involved in?
Nathan Tanner: Sure. A really good example is a project we did with the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control. They were very interested in a point of care assay for Zika diagnosis. So they liked our LAMP technology. It's a very simple, fast, easy amplification method that can very sensitively detect RNA or DNA targets. So they wanted to build a test for Zika, wanted to use LAMP, we helped them design some assays, optimize and troubleshoot the setup and really utilize our simple colorimetric LAMP technology for their Zika test.
Deana Martin: Okay, great. And why did the customized solutions team get involved in this project?
Nathan Tanner: Yeah, so they started out just using things as we sell them off the shelf, but they quickly ran into an issue where they wanted a very sensitive test. And to do that for something like Zika, you really need to add as much sample as possible. So the more sample you add, the more sensitive your test, because you can pick up low copy numbers from your sample. So the simple way to fix the problem for them was to make a high concentration version of the carryover contamination prevention or the ability to lyophilize their assay to be used in a point of care setting.
Deana Martin: So we were able to help them with customizing this?
Nathan Tanner: Yes we were.
Deana Martin: And what was the end result of that project?
Nathan Tanner: So we made a few different versions of the mix for them to test out. They tested different things in their workflow, found the one that worked the best for picking up the lowest copy number of samples and they were happy with it. They were able to publish a paper about it and have since patented and are working on commercializing the assay as a real Zika diagnostic.
Deana Martin: That's fantastic. So if I were a customer and I was looking for a customized product, what should I do?
Nathan Tanner: Yeah, there are a few different options. Simplest is to go to the customized solutions webpage and reach out via email. Or if you have a technical question about an enzyme, send it in through our tech support page. You might go to a scientist like me who can then rope in the custom solutions team as needed.
Deana Martin: Perfect. Thank you so much.
Nathan Tanner: Sure. Thank you.
Deana Martin: Great.
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