The BLINK Bead Approach

Dr Hartmut Bocker
March 20, 2023

Nucleic acid amplification tests are a crucial component of modern medicine and research, as they allow for the detection and analysis of DNA or RNA in samples.

The current standard for nucleic acid extraction and purification is the use of spin columns with silica-based matrix or the more laborious phenol-chloroform approach. However, these workflows are disruptive, as they require the extraction and purification to be done before the actual assay can begin.

To improve diagnostic test design, it is important to simplify the process as much as possible to reduce the likelihood of errors and produce robust results.

Furthermore, precious sample is lost at every additional pipetting step.

Multiplexing allows the analysis of several patients in a single run or gives the opportunity to create diagnostic panels that can answer multiple questions within one sample in only one experiment. This saves not only resources like reagents and workforce but also valuable time.

To address all these challenges, we developed the BLINK Beads. These Beads have the advantage of providing an uninterrupted workflow, as they can be probed into a sample that has been chemically or mechanically lysed. The Beads themselves capture the DNA (or RNA) directly in the sample. Utilising the Beads’ magnetic properties to keep them in place, the nucleic acid is then purified – by removing liquid, washing and finally loading with PCR reagents, readying them for the PCR reaction. BLINK Beads subsequently serve as compartmentalization body and reaction chamber for the digital PCR.

The BLINK Beads have a simple and streamlined workflow, resulting in more robust assays. Beads can also be encoded by coloured particles, allowing for different subgroups of Beads to be generated. Specific primer probes can be bound to these subgroups enabling each colour to detect distinct analytes. This allows the creation of diagnostic panels for multiplexing. Alternatively, bead codes can be assigned to different samples like various patients’ specimens.

The BLINK nanoreactor Beads are an innovative approach that addresses the challenges faced in nucleic acid tests both in research and diagnostics.

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