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New Techne TC-PLUS thermal cyclers offer speed, flexibility and ease of use

06 December 2010

The new feature packed TC-PLUS range of thermal cyclers available from Bibby Scientific, can be combined with Satellite units giving complete flexibility to configure any multi-block format.

The new thermal cyclers have some of the fastest aluminium blocks available, with a ramp rate of up to 5°c per second. The use of a relatively massive aluminium unit gives greater uniformity for more reproducible PCR results than a silver block.

There is a choice of easily interchangeable blocks - 96 x 0.2ml, 60 x 0.5ml and 384-well plate - all with a temperature gradient option for efficient optimisation of PCR conditions. All major consumable types can be accommodated, from 0.5ml tubes to 384-well plates, sealed with either heat-seal or adhesive films.

With over 20 years experience in the design and manufacture of thermal cyclers, Techne is established as a leading supplier and the TC-PLUS is covered by a 4-year warranty (4 years or 100,000 cycles for blocks).

The 5.7 inch VGA colour touchscreen with graphical display is intuitive and easy to use. All buttons are large enough for gloved fingers to use easily - no stylus, pen or spatula is needed. At least 1,000 programs can be stored and the front-positioned USB port makes it easy to transfer protocols between cyclers or laboratories.

The new Techne TC-PLUS thermal cyclers incorporate stand-out innovations such as the energy-saving Thermal Energy Recovery System (TERS®) and an automatic non-motorised heated lid.

Meeting an important requirement in today's energy-conscious market, the TERS® System achieves reduced operational costs by making vital energy savings, harnessing some of the heat transferred from the block during the cooling phase for re-use in the next heating phase.

The TC-PLUS features a unique front loading sample drawer, where the force used to push the drawer closed also lowers the heated lid into position, applying the correct pressure onto the sample tubes or plate to prevent evaporation, via an entirely mechanical mechanism.

Front loading allows units to be stacked without any compromise in function.

The latest TC-PLUS thermal cyclers and Satellite units from Techne are thus designed to save valuable time and energy, whilst their stackable configuration and front-to-back vented airflow enable close side-by-side positioning, reducing the bench space they take up.

The stackable design and PC software option also enable multiple TC-PLUS cyclers and Satellites to be networked easily, for high throughput PCR using 96-well or 384-well blocks. The Satellite units can be controlled from the TC-PLUS server or from a PC but have no individual user interface.

Time savings are an advantage in many research labs and the Techne TC-Plus is the ideal tool for use when optimizing protocols for fast PCR, with its flexible programming and rapid block ramp rates. Comparing the same PCR program on the TC-Plus and the slower TC-512 gave a time saving of around 30 minutes simply by using faster ramping (1 hour compared with 1 hour 30 minutes). There were no appreciable differences in yield or sensitivity between the two thermal cyclers.

Another way to shorten run times is to modify the standard protocol by reducing the number of steps and/or hold times of individual steps. A temperature gradient optimisation experiment changing from three to two step PCR using the TC-Plus saved 22 minutes (52 minutes run time for the two-step protocol; 1 hour 14 minutes for three steps). A slight decrease in the yield of 400bp fragments was noted, but no noticeable difference in amount for 100bp PCR products.

Reagents specifically formulated for fast PCR contain specialised enzymes and stabilisers to facilitate rapid ramping and short hold times still further. Use of a fast PCR mix gave improved yield and sensitivity compared with the standard mix when running a fast protocol on the TC-PLUS. However, this was overall lower than when using a standard protocol with longer hold times for each step. The total run time using the fast protocol was around 40 minutes compared to the standard run time of 1 hour on the TC-PLUS or 1 hour 30 minutes on the TC-512.

TC-PLUS thermal cyclers and Satellite units provide all the flexibility needed for both fast and high-throughput PCR in research, diagnostics, forensic and testing laboratories. This versatility is enhanced with easily interchangeable blocks, the freedom to use any consumables and full networking capability.

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