QIAsymphony RGQ is a complete sample-to-result workflow system that comprises the QIAsymphony SP instrument for sample preparation, the QIAsymphony AS instrument for assay setup, and a range of ready-to-use assays on the Rotor-Gene Q real-time PCR cycler. Manufacturer QIAGEN explains how its technology makes laboratories more flexible, efficient and economical.

Five years ago, at a private medical laboratory in Germany’s Limbach Group of diagnostic facilities, Dr Mark Wasner became one of the first people to adopt QIAGEN’s complete QIAsymphony RGQ system. Today, his MVZ Labor Dessau (Limbach Group) lab is able to process up to 400 samples a day using two QIAsymphony RGQ systems and a QIAsymphony SP instrument, plus a Rotor-Gene Q cycler. In addition to its own in-house assays, Wasner’s laboratory also uses viral load assays from the QIAGEN artus portfolio to monitor viruses such as HIV-1, HBV, HCV and CMV.

System redundancy

All instruments in Wasner’s lab can run both in-house and artus assays, so that when samples are received, they can be immediately loaded on to the next available instrument. When maintenance is required, there is always spare instrument capacity, which enables continuity and ensures that patient results are released in a timely manner. In addition, two or three QIAsymphony SP instruments always run overnight to guarantee that eluates are available the next morning, saving valuable setup time.

Optimising workflow

To optimise laboratory workflows, Wasner has developed and validated a single extraction protocol that can be used for different in-house assays. The extraction can be run overnight, and each eluate can be used to set up multiple assays the following morning. This workflow gets the most from the testing process and reduces the number of patient sample collections needed. In parallel, DNA is purified for human genetic applications, such as DNA sequencing using Sanger or pyrosequencing techniques. The next steps are to investigate the introduction of next-generation sequencing (NGS) techniques as this technology becomes established for routine diagnostic use.

Efficiency gains

Using the same platform for all assays means the lab’s eight technicians are fully trained on all tests, allowing more flexibility to cover staff absences due to sickness, holiday or shift patterns, as well as outbreak situations. The administrative effort for ordering reagents and consumables has been significantly reduced, and less space is required for reagent storage. In addition, the workload associated with developing SOPs, training and accreditation is lighter. Fewer individual instruments can now run the whole range of diagnostic tests, saving valuable space in the lab. Finally, the streamlined and validated workflows have resulted in lower costs for service and quality assurance.

IT integration

Seamless integration of the QIAsymphony RGQ into the IT infrastructure of the laboratory has helped to reduce hands-on time and minimise human error associated with manual data transfer steps. The systems are run with a lean IT setup, with test orders and results seamlessly exchanged between the QIAsymphony RGQ systems and laboratory information management system (LIMS), while all sample-related data is transferred between QIAsymphony SP, QIAsymphony AS, Rotor-Gene Q and third-party instruments.

In the future, Wasner envisions a completely automated and paperless workflow in his lab, similar to that already seen in other industries. All systems would be connected to the LIMS, and test scheduling, status reporting and notification of maintenance needs will be automated, such that the system runs in the most efficient way possible. QIAGEN is continuously working with customers to optimise workflows and improve overall service quality.

The benefits at a glance:

  • overall capacity increase of 100%
  • LIMS integration and flexible batching save as much as three hours of hands-on time per technician, per day
  • 30% reduction in administration effort for ordering reagents
  • 50% less training required
  • consolidating instruments and reagents to one supplier means annual savings of €80,000
  • reductions in costs associated with service and maintenance of instruments.