Topics Featured

Zulu RT delivers speed, accuracy

November 9, 2020

Topics Featured

Toward the end of his life, legendary Old West lawman Wyatt Earp of OK Corral fame migrated to southern California and became a consultant for silent Western films. His experiences in Dodge City and Tombstone helped lend authenticity to the movies of Western legends such as Harry Carey, Hoot Gibson and Tom Mix. As the subject of many interviews by the Hollywood press, Earp was asked about some of his most memorable gunfights, and how the fast draw that was employed in films compared to real life and death situations. He was known to reply that he was fast, but never the fastest with a six-gun, and he often faced gunfighters who were faster than him. The reason he survived, in his opinion, was his uncanny accuracy. “Fast is fine,” he remarked, “but accuracy is everything.” 

In the realm of molecular testing there is a struggle to reduce the turnaround time of complex genetic tests while maintaining the accuracy on which a valid diagnosis is based. Real-time PCR, also known as qPCR, has been used in laboratories for the better part of three decades. The basic principles have not changed in that time but improvements, such as detecting multiple dyes and the addition of various probe designs and chemistries, have resulted in versatile and robust platforms available to the molecular biologist for applications in research and diagnostics.

However, the overall speed of these qPCR reactions has not improved by a significant portion, even with the introduction of specifically designed rapid polymerases over the last decade. And with faster PCR there is greater concern over the possible introduction of errors and anomalies.

Streck has developed the Zulu RT®, a modular, rapid qPCR instrument capable of performing 40 cycles of qPCR in less than 20 minutes. Due to the rapid temperature ramping of the instrument, the unique nature of the Streck PCR tubes used in the instrument and precise thermal control, the Zulu RT provides both the speed long sought in qPCR and the accuracy that scientists demand in their work.

Zulu RT, rapid qPCR instrument

Zulu RT

  • Rapid cycling, fastest in the world
  • Flexibility in testing
  • 6-color detection
  • Expanded multiplex testing

Thermal cyclers primarily have heat transfer in one direction and the entire reaction mix must reach each of the prescribed temperature settings for denaturing, annealing and extension in order to have a complete PCR cycle. In standard thermal cyclers with conical wells, the time until the entire reaction mixture reaches the set temperature is slower as the reaction volume increases.

A 10 µL sample would reach the setpoint temperature of 94 °C in 21.1 seconds, whereas the reaction of 75 uL would take 38.1 seconds to reach the same temperature. With the Zulu RT system, 94 °C can be reached in 9.3 seconds for a 10 µL reaction and for a 75 µL reaction it would take 11.4 seconds, a difference of only 2.1 seconds. The long, thin reaction tubes allow for greater mixture homogeneity than the standard conical tubes. This greater homogeneity results in rapid PCR, no matter the volume, and fewer PCR artifacts. Zulu RT offers speed and accuracy in one versatile, modular system.

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