Creating Custom Oligonucleotides for Life Science Research

SelectScience speaks with Integrated DNA Technologies (IDT) to learn how the company was able to increase its offering of customizable and robust nucleic acid products to support the life science industry


Naomi Cauwenberghs, Deputy Director of Large Scale Processing at Integrated DNA Technologies

From academic and commercial research to medical diagnostics, pharmaceutical development and synthetic biology, oligonucleotides form the basis of almost all molecular techniques. However, the synthesis of these compound molecules can be incredibly complex, requiring a highly controlled reaction to ensure that factors such as pH, temperature, and substrate quality are tightly regulated. This complexity increases even more when producing longer and more personalized nucleotide sequences.

Naomi Cauwenberghs is Deputy Director of Large-Scale Processing at Integrated DNA Technologies (IDT), a genomics solutions provider and manufacturer of nucleic acid products such as custom oligonucleotides. Cauwenberghs daily role is to oversee the final formulation stage of the entire oligonucleotide production process, lead a team to quantify the final product, prepare quality control samples, interpret quality control results and prepare the sample according to customer’s request, among other duties.

In this SelectScience article, we chat with Cauwenberghs to find out what kind of decisions she and her team made to overcome the challenges of producing these complex products, how the company was able to continually expand its offering, and gain some of the considerations keys. that must be made when shipping these products.

An influx of demand

When it comes to any form of manufacturing in the science industry, Cauwenberghs says the biggest challenge is keeping up with customer demand. “Customer expectations evolve, from their needs on the type of product, the yields needed or the quantity of oligos. Investigate the possibility of automation where we can, but this is not always possible due to the highly customized nature of our process.

Cauwenberghs goes on to explain how COVID-19 has resulted in an urgent need to handle both larger batches and larger quantities of products. “To meet these requirements in a short time, we had to manage the product quickly, look for new solutions and think outside the box,” she explains.

“We must regularly challenge and challenge our processes to ensure that we are optimizing and developing together in a way that meets the needs of our customers. »

Process improvement and optimization

To overcome these high-demand challenges, IDT emphasizes that manufacturers need to dig deep to see how and what they can improve, how they can be more efficient, and if automation is possible. Cauwenberghs develops this approach: “Our process is very organic. We continue to learn, improve and adapt to the needs of today’s market. We have been busy expanding our capacity, both with machines and with people. But we are always looking for other machines and techniques to update and improve our processes for the future. It is also very important for us to think ahead, plan and try to take steps to prepare for what we will need in the future.

Ensure safe delivery

When shipping delicate nucleic acid products for genomics applications such as next-generation sequencing, CRISPR genome editing, qPCR or RNA interference, Cauwenberghs says it’s crucial not to overlook the importance of having high quality shipping containers and packaging. “Making thoughtful choices in the packaging of our products helps to ensure that our product remains safe and reaches the customer in the same condition and with the same quality in which we shipped it.” She continues to point out that it is the small details such as ease of use, volume markings, dedicated location for labels and container specification information on the tube that can add value to the manufacturer. and to the customer.

Cauwenberghs explains that when shipping on dry ice, it’s important to make sure the product is kept in its frozen state when dissolved in buffer. It is imperative that the tubes are well sealed, waterproof and can withstand the low temperature of dry ice without cracking or breaking. “For the majority of our large scale research use only products as well as some of our medium and large scale GMP* products we ship to customers in the Labcon ProtectR® Tubes,” says Cauwenberghs. “These tubes are specifically designed to withstand dry ice and provide IDT with an excellent option for a standard shipping container for its product. They ensure that the high quality of the IDT product remains intact during transport. The dimensions and shape of the tubes conform to industry standards, which facilitates their integration into the scientific and research environments in which we operate.

Trust with supply chains

As one of the largest manufacturers of custom oligo products in the world, we asked Cauwenberghs what IDT’s top considerations are when choosing a vendor to work with. She responds, “Our main considerations fall into three main areas. First, we look at the quality of their products. Products must meet the specifications we require, in turn guaranteeing the best quality to our customers. Secondly, we are looking for reliable supply with good on time delivery. This is necessary to ensure that we can continue to produce at the same rate without having production stoppages due to stockouts. Finally, excellent communication and excellent customer support are essential to ensure that good decisions are made when buying and that help is available if questions arise.

For research only. Not for use in diagnostic procedures. Unless otherwise agreed in writing, IDT does not intend to use these products in clinical applications and does not warrant their suitability or suitability for clinical diagnostic use. The purchaser is solely responsible for all decisions regarding the use of these products and any associated regulatory or legal obligations.

*GMP refers to products manufactured under ISO 13485:2016 QMS. The purchaser is solely responsible for all decisions regarding the use of these products and for all associated regulatory or legal obligations for their legal marketing.

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