Tips for Working with Your Lab on Environmental Samples
In order to develop a revolutionary diagnostic, we have processed thousands of real world samples using Detect/L. To measure our performance during development, we have confirmed each of these samples using traditional methods. Depending on our workload, sometimes we run confirmation in house and sometimes we ship them off to a third party lab. In the process, we’ve established great partnerships with labs around the country. We’ve also learned a lot about working with your outside lab.
Know When to Ask for Help
When you need to know for certain if a presumptive positive is due to a pathogenic strain of Listeria or a less serious “indicator strain”, labs are a phenomenal resource. Most have the capability to test your samples with a variety of methods taking advantage of expert staff trained in microbiology and molecular biology. They can safely handle the biohazardous waste associated with enrichment-based diagnostics that you may prefer to avoid having in your facilities. Most labs can automatically initiate a confirmation step with a presumed positive.
Timing is Everything
Work with your lab to understand their workflow. You may be able to save a day or more in turnaround time by ensuring that samples arrive early in the morning and that the lab is expecting them. Samples that arrive in the afternoon may have to wait until the next day to start processing. We have found that using the “first-overnight” service of some shipping companies cuts 24 hours off of an otherwise 72 hour time-to-result.
Review Twice, Execute Once
Labs run like well oiled machines, which is excellent for routine samples but can be challenging for one offs or special requests. For investigative purposes, it can be helpful to type pathogen strains. This is not typical practice for labs. If this is a requirement, be sure to work with your lab to ensure that the strain is preserved and shipped back. The same is true for experimental methods or changes in protocol. Make sure your lab is comfortable with the methods and the processes that you need to ensure success. At Sample6, we understand that with an in-plant, in-shift pathogen diagnostic, outside confirmation will be valuable. We are happy to partner with you and your lab to ensure a smooth confirmation process for Detect.
Throughout our development, we have worked with a few different labs. Things to consider in working with your lab are service, support and price. The price of a given test can vary by as much as 50% based on the size of your contract and your relationship with the lab. Local labs may be willing to pick up samples. Some labs will provide collection supplies. Keep in mind that the cheapest alternative may not be the best as turnaround time can vary greatly. We’ve found a great lab partner. Shop around until you find the confirmation lab that meets your needs.
Confirmation is important but faster results enable new workflows.
How will it change your workflow?
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