Newswise — The August 2017 issue of SLAS Technology (formerly the Journal of Laboratory Automation) showcases 10 new reviews and original research reports that illustrate how the progression of research assays from qualitative outputs toward increasingly sensitive quantitative outputs is transforming life sciences and biomedical research and diagnostics by improving the ability of researchers and clinicians to detect and quantify increasingly complex assays.

Anchored by an in-depth, two-part review of digital assays by Amar S. Basu, Ph.D., of Wayne State University (Detroit, MI), the collection of papers presented in this special issue report improvements in assay design, such as data partitioning, and demonstrate how these improvements are enabling quantification of rare mutations in increasingly smaller sample volumes, quantitative single cell analysis of a range of other molecular biological outputs and more comprehensive analysis of heterogeneous populations as well as rare biological samples

Papers in this issue also share insight into how the integration of microfluidic technologies into all aspects of assay development, sample collection, sample trapping and detection is improving a wide range of life sciences and biomedical research applications. Examples include improved label-free detection of molecule-protein interactions with increased sensitivity as well as a 10x increase in array sample size by using flow cells in microscope slide; improved mechanobiological studies by improving control of external force input, such as regulation of extracellular matrix stiffness; improved tissue dissection and sample processing to improve analysis of smaller sample sizes in quantitative assays related to cancer diagnostics, developmental biology and drug screening.

Advances in quantitative analysis reported in this issue document accurate detection of species-specific ribosomal RNA through electrochemical biosensors to improve detection of blood bacterial infections; how sensor design can allow for equipment-free diagnostic devices against other infectious diseases with high sensitivity; and how current implementation of miniaturization technology paired with improved imaging analysis software allows for quantitative phenotypic analysis of increasingly complex samples, such as 3D spheroids, in high-throughput drug screening applications.