What’s in the box?

All this talk of the Lab Without Walls, and we’ve said very little about what’s in the boxes we shipped. Now’s the time to open the lid and take a look inside. The concept is a portable molecular microbiology lab. That has been achieved in a series of modules, each of which can be quickly packed away in sturdy air freight boxes:

Sample prep module

1    Sample preparation module, comprising vortex mixer, bench top microfuge, heating block, automatic pipettes and an automated magnetic bead DNA extraction system (MagMax-24, Applied Biosystems)

Hospital (real time) thermocycler

2    Hospital real time thermocycler (StepOne, Applied Biosystems)

Mobile thermocycler & bioanalyzer

3    Mobile conventional thermocycler (Kyratech) and Bioanalyzer (Agilent Industries)

That is, of course, in addition to lab consumables and molecular reagents. The same combination of portable lab equipment can be used to deliver a wide range of pathology tests including:

  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis in respiratory samples from patients with suspected tuberculosis
  • MANTRA genotyping of M. tuberculosis
  • Other Mycobacteria from patients with HIV/AIDS
  • Plasmodium parasites in blood from patients with suspected malaria
  • The top 12 bacteria found in blood cultures from septicaemic patients
  • Bacteria responsible for pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Dengue, Japanese encephalitis and other arboviruses in blood
  • Quality control and troubleshooting assays
  • Leptospira, Orienta and other bacteria in blood from febrile patients.


  1. RT @micrognome157: What's in the box? http://bit.ly/fyfkEL

  2. A nice story. I started my own life science company a few years ago and have been intrigued by the possibilities of a mobile molecular biology laboratory. Several companies have put together instruments and reagents that make it possible to extract, purify, PCR and detect sample without moving. For example, I have found a handheld PCR instrument and a dipstick -like device for detecting specific PCR product. Since this particular article by you is a few years old, I was wondering if you could provide an update. The idea of a portable molecular biology lab is still under-explored in my opinion. The potential has yet to be realised and I think one of the reasons is that scientists don’t know what is yet possible.

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