In August of 2007, Nathan Blow, technology editor for Nature and Nature Methods wrote, “Millions of tissue samples have been collected and archived, but researchers wanting to explore them at the molecular level have found it tough going.” In the 2007 article Blow goes on to discuss the enormous value in these formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue samples, allowing researchers detailed studies of the progression of many, serious diseases such as cancer. Despite huge advances in tissue sampling and preservation techniques and practices, researchers still struggle to study the biomolecular materials within the FFPE tissue samples, of which Mr. Blow said that more than one billion now exist in archives around the world.
On May 21, 2010 Pressure BioSciences, Inc. (NasdaqCM: PBIO) sponsored a symposium at Harvard Medical School on the “Applications of Ultra-High Pressure in Technology.” The symposium was an entire day of reputable speakers from an array of some of North America’s most renowned laboratories and universities, who convened to share their successful use of Pressure BioSciences’ Pressure Cycling Technology (PCT). PCT uses rapid cycles of hydrostatic pressure (the pressure a liquid exerts when it is at rest) between normal and at ultra-high levels to release DNA, RNA, and proteins from scientific samples, allowing researchers to finally study the very important biomolecular materials found within tissue and other samples. The symposium presentation topics ranged from the development of essential sample preparation techniques in proteomics to recovery and immunoaffinity enrichment of integral membrane proteins from metastatic ovarian cancer tissue. Importantly, it also included an announcement from the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) that they and PBI had entered into a collaboration on the development of methods to extract proteins from FFPE samples, and that initial results indicated that the new PCT-based method could extract nearly twice as many new, unique proteins as the very best method on the market today. The data also indicated that PCT could be used to prepare better, higher quality FFPE samples at the beginning of the fixation process; it is estimated that 30 million are prepared in the US alone, on an annual basis. A glance over the symposium abstract reveals that PCT has potential applications in proteomics, genomics, oncology, biodefense, forensics, and more: Researchers used PCT to obtain DNA from hair and bone samples, analyze a Lyme disease-causing pathogen in ticks, and obtain proteins fossilized in amber à la Jurassic Park. The take-home message was that PCT is a new cutting-edge technology whose time seems to be coming: in fact, more than 100 PCT instruments have been installed in just the three years the instrument has been on the market. For a complete library of the symposium abstracts please visit http://bit.ly/pressurebiosciences .
Watch video from the Harvard symposium featuring Pressure BioSciences: