Detecting microbial contamination

Detecting microbial contamination. The key to valid results.

Up to 70% of mammalian cell cultures used to publish work are unknowingly contaminated by bacteria, viruses, or parasites. Perfectus Biomed has set the course to help researchers and scientists detect contamination and obtain valid results. 
Thousands of hours of scientific research are at stake when contamination is not detected in cell cultures. In a lab setting, contamination can show up as viruses, bacteria or parasitic organisms, known as mycoplasma. These are undetectable by microscope or regular means of detection. “The proportion of experiments potentially impacted is astonishingly high,” says Dr. Samantha Westgate, microbiologist, CEO and founder of Perfectus Biomed Group. It is often the case that mammalian cell cultures are reported as contaminated. That means, “cell lines used to publish work, potentially had contamination that could invalidate the results,” explains Paul Malone, a fellow scientist at Perfectus.

Perfectus works with a broad range of customers right from the start. This makes the work extremely complex since no culture is the same. When Westgate decided to design customized microbiological services that serve the antimicrobial community she knew that her team “needed to implement quite a few different workflows and processes to be able to make it work efficiently within our business,” Malone recalls.
Imagine having weeks of work invalidated due to contamination? Paul Malone, a biochemist at Perfectus Biomed, explains why the appropriate technology is needed for cultivating cell lines and the decisions that went into setting up their new lab with QIAGEN microbiology experts.
In just three months, with the help of QIAGEN, we built a new molecular biology lab and designed a PCR workflow from sample to insight.
Dr. Samantha Westgate, CEO and Founder, Perfectus Biomed Group, England

The right technology

In addition to our customised microbiology services we are expanding to offer Cell line authentication and STR profiling. These tests ensure that the data we generate from our cell lines is of the highest quality, and we are now in a position to offer this service to others. Malone explains. "QIAGEN has advised us well in this case, we have set up using technologies that help us today, but, together, we are already thinking about possible business areas of tomorrow and the technologies we will need to support them." Currently, Perfectus is using the Rotor-Gene Q for real-time PCR. According to Malone, “it is highly sensitive in terms of pathogen detection, minimising the risk of false negative results. The Rotor-Gene Q is also very flexible and is used to address the wide range of applications we offer to our clients. We are also using QIAGEN's extraction and PCR kits, such as Quantinova RT-PCR due to their ease of use and accuracy of data.”

Twenty different viruses and 80 species of mycoplasma can currently be detected by Perfectus, providing not only qualitative but also quantitative information on the presence of these microorganisms. “Swift times lines are essential in order not to delay studies unnecessarily. With this in mind our service typically reports data within 48 hours of us receiving the sample” says Dr. Laura Sellars, Senior Scientist and team manager.

The Perfectus team explain how they have made it their mission to provide customized solutions to their customers and why their offerings are world class. "We work at a pace that no university could match," says Dr. Laura Sellars, Senior Scientist and team manager.
If you're cultivating a sample in a lab, in a non-sterile environment, you might be bringing in particular viruses or different pathogens, such as parasites.
Paul Malone, Scientist, Perfectus Biomed Group, England

Preparing for every scenario

The Perfectus customer promise is: Customised solutions and innovative science in line with commercial timelines. In Westgate's words, "We perform research methodologies in line with commercial time frames. By offering this new service we are supporting others to ensure that the time and effort they invest in their studies produces reliable data. This requires know-how, an extremely tight organization, consistent automation, and, for this, the use of the latest technologies and the right partners. In just three months, with the help of QIAGEN, we built a new molecular biology lab and designed a PCR workflow from sample to insight.”

With the new molecular biology laboratory, Perfectus now brings together four different disciplines under one roof, along with microbiology, virology, cell biology. Further expansion is seen in virology, since COVID-19 made anti-viral products a global issue. Perfectus will continue to expand, bringing pathogen detection out of the lab and into the wider world.


Detecting microbial contamination
Perfectus Biomed, was founded in 2012 with a focus on bacterial biofilms. They have been on a strong growth trajectory since then, particularly after repositioning the company’s focus to creating customized microbiological services. Over the past year, QIAGEN’s microbiology experts have worked closely with Perfectus to help them rapidly develop unique service solutions for their customers.

April 2021