OUR LAB

Innovation. Performance. Quality. It’s in our DNA.

Boca Biolistics Reference Laboratory is a research-driven organization dedicated to being a leading specialty laboratory partner by
acquiring, evaluating and implementing the latest technologies to pioneer the advancement of diagnostic medicine.

We provide test results and support services to health systems, hospitals, doctors and commercial reference laboratories needed to improve patient health outcomes. Our strategic collaborations with diagnostic and research companies help solve difficult problems while supporting diagnostic innovations.

We have a specialized test menu and pride ourselves in our industry-leading turnaround times and unparalleled client support.

Diagnostic Areas of Focus

Infectious Diseases

Infectious diseases are conditions that are associated with the transmission of a micro-organism (e.g. a bacterium or virus) from one human host to another. These micro-organisms produce ill health by multiplying themselves and affecting human cells in ways that may kill or ‘poison’ them. New “hosts” may be infected through contact with micro-organism-contaminated food, water or body fluids.

Tropical Diseases

Tropical diseases are infectious diseases associated with micro-organisms that have been found to originate in “exotic” locations such as rainforests or jungles. Tropical diseases are often present in animals, but some can also infect humans. Human infection can often occur as a result of tourism or contact with specimens from the tropical “ground zero”. Once this has occurred, tropical disease infection can result in epidemics due to factors such as air travel and urban life.

Women’s Health

Women’s health involves the prevention and treatment of conditions such as gynaecological cancers and sexually transmitted diseases. These conditions may affect reproductive health, but are also often relevant to other arenas such as a woman’s mental health, health in advancing age and her overall lifespan. The likelihood of such an issue is currently thought to be strongly associated with genetic predisposition; therefore, genetic screening and testing may take an increasingly central role in women’s health.

Oncology – NGS

Next generation sequencing (NGS) is a powerful method of genetic analysis that may assess hundreds of genes in tandem1. Cancer may involve the actions and interactions of many tumor cell genes. NGS has also demonstrated the ability to model biochemical strategies that target cancers with new and existing therapies2.

Transplantation

Human transplants are procedures in which damaged organs are replaced or augmented with suitable tissues from healthy donors. Transplant patients often require continual monitoring for transplant success, health and possible infection. This can be done using laboratory tests for biomarkers, proteins and (if necessary) dangerous bacteria or viruses3.

References

  1. Ghosh A, Schlecht H, Heptinstall LE, et al. Diagnosing childhood-onset inborn errors of metabolism by next-generation sequencing. Archives of disease in childhood. 2017.
  2. Ikemoto H, Lingasamy P, Anton Willmore AM, et al. Hyaluronan-binding peptide for targeting peritoneal carcinomatosis. Tumour biology : the journal of the International Society for Oncodevelopmental Biology and Medicine. 2017;39(5):1010428317701628.
  3. Ansari I-uH, Allen T, Berical A, Stock PG, Barin B, Striker R. Phenotypic analysis of NS5A variant from liver transplant patient with increased cyclosporine susceptibility. Virology. 2013;436(2):268-273.

Technology Platforms

Immunoassay

An immunoassay is a biochemical laboratory procedure that detects the compound to be tested using antibodies or antigens. These are large proteins that can be specifically designed to attach themselves near-perfectly to the specific molecule that you need to detect1. The specific antigen or antibody then indicates the presence of its target in a sample (usually liquid) by causing it to change colour or become fluorescent1. They can also be used to measure how much of a target molecule is present in a sample. Immunoassays are a highly accurate method of detection that can detect a range of substances, including drugs, hormones and disease biomarkers.

Real Time PCR

Real time PCR (RT-PCR) is an ingenious process by which a specific piece (or sequence) of DNA is replicated (or amplified) many times over. The original form of PCR was intended to make the detection of DNA in samples (often present in tiny, sometimes almost negligible amounts) easier. However, PCR, which is based on the natural way in which DNA is ‘manufactured’ in cells (i.e. the polymerase chain reaction) can also be used to analyse how often a sequence is likely to be replicated in such a procedure, and thus how much of it was originally present2. This is done by assessing the replication as it happens (i.e. in ‘real time’) during a PCR procedure. RT-PCR can be used in cases for which DNA is often very difficult to detect, including those involving possible viral infections2.

DNA Hybridization

DNA hybridization is based on the principle that DNA, which is present in long, molecular ‘strands’ called sequences, is made up of two sub-strands that complement each other perfectly. This is done to maintain the integrity and conformation of the sequence. Therefore, one sub-strand from a particular sequence can be isolated and put into a solution with a second sub-strand from a different sequence. They are encouraged to form a complete sequence (or hybridize), if possible2. The presence and degree of hybridization indicates the similarity between two separate DNA sub-strands2. Therefore, DNA hybridization can be used to assess questions such as genetic similarity between two separate organisms.

Transcription Mediated Amplification

Transcription Mediated Amplification (TMA) is a laboratory procedure that is compatible with more genetic molecule types (e.g. DNA or RNA) compared to other methods (e.g. RT-PCR)3. Therefore, it may detect RNA and DNA in samples that may contain genes from many sources (e.g. a combination of human and bacteria) with rapid, efficient results3. It is typically used to detect pathogens or foreign bodies in a clinical or pathological setting. TMA can also be used in situations that call for rapid, specific analysis with relatively few steps and equipment requirements, including Zika-virus detection procedures3.

Microbiological Phenotypic Susceptibility

Viruses and bacteria acquire drug resistance by changing the proteins found on their surfaces7. This is particularly relevant in epidemics involving drug-resistant bacteria or transplant surgeries7. Phenotypic susceptibility analysis evaluates the presence of these proteins by studying virus or bacterium at a molecular level7.

Genotypic characteristics refer to the properties of genetic material (e.g. DNA) alone, whereas phenotypic characteristics encompass how genetic attributes translate into the biological and behavioral aspects of the actual organism in question. Phenotypic characteristics include how an organism (e.g. a bacterium) reacts and adapts to agents intended to kill it (i.e. drugs or antimicrobial compounds)4. These characteristics are the basis of drug resistance among microbes4. Their observation and analysis is termed microbiological phenotypic susceptibility (MPS). MPS analyses and assays are carried out to validate or back up molecular or genetic assays of drug resistance4. In addition, they may be used to manage the possibility of false positives in these genotype-based methods4.

Next Generation Sequencing

Next-generation sequencing (NGS) is a collective term referring to a range of high-tech assays, applications and automated processes that accurately sequence genes (most often in the form of DNA) at an efficient rate5. DNA sequencing is a process in which individual DNA sources are analyzed for their content, properties and functions in the body5. NGS has progressed to the point at which hundreds of genes can be analyzed simultaneously and in relation to each other5. This gives a picture of how individual genes interact in the body to produce states of health or disease5. NGS currently plays an increasingly common role in medical diagnoses and research5.

Cardio and Metabolic Biomarkers

Some metabolic disorders (e.g. hyperlipidemia) affect the probability and/or severity of cardiovascular conditions8. This is due to biomarkers or biochemical interactions that affect the risk and progression of both disease types8. These biomarkers can be found circulating in the blood, the analysis of which is referred to as cardio-metabolic hematology.

Conditions such as obesity and hyperglycemia are associated with certain blood proteins. By studying and measuring these proteins, known as metabolic biomarkers, a person’s risk of developing the relevant conditions can be determined. Alternatively, tracking these biomarkers in the lab can assess a patient’s response to treatment for their metabolic disorder.

Viral Genotyping

Viral genotyping is a process in which the genetic material of individual viruses are sequenced or characterized in-depth using laboratory methods such as RT-PCR9. This is done to analyze the virus in question, and its ability to cause disease in animals or humans9. Viral genotyping also allows the detection of differences among viruses of the same strain (or family) that may confer new traits (e.g. viral drug resistance)9.

Therapeutic Drug Monitoring

When a patient is on a regular drug regimen, the drug molecules are processed (or metabolized) as they circulate in the body. The efficiency of drug metabolism may affect the risk of overdose and/or unwanted side-effects over time11. Laboratory tests such as immunoassays can be used to monitor this risk through drug metabolism analysis, and even help optimize dosing and dose-timing as the patient continues their treatment11.

References

  1. Yan X, Zhao Y, Zhang Y, Qu H. Monoclonal Antibodies and Immunoassay for Medical Plant-Derived Natural Products: A Review. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland). 2017;22(3).
  2. Schubert S, Wieser A, Bonkat G. [New microbiological techniques]. Der Urologe. Ausg. A. 2017.
  3. Chotiwan N, Brewster CD, Magalhaes T, et al. Rapid and specific detection of Asian- and African-lineage Zika viruses. Science translational medicine. 2017;9(388).
  4. Louie M, Cockerill FR, 3rd. Susceptibility testing. Phenotypic and genotypic tests for bacteria and mycobacteria. Infectious disease clinics of North America. 2001;15(4):1205-1226.
  5. Ghosh A, Schlecht H, Heptinstall LE, et al. Diagnosing childhood-onset inborn errors of metabolism by next-generation sequencing. Archives of disease in childhood. 2017.
  6. Ikemoto H, Lingasamy P, Anton Willmore AM, et al. Hyaluronan-binding peptide for targeting peritoneal carcinomatosis. Tumour biology : the journal of the International Society for Oncodevelopmental Biology and Medicine. 2017;39(5):1010428317701628.
  7. Ansari I-uH, Allen T, Berical A, Stock PG, Barin B, Striker R. Phenotypic analysis of NS5A variant from liver transplant patient with increased cyclosporine susceptibility. Virology. 2013;436(2):268-273.
  8. Phillips CM, Tierney AC, Perez-Martinez P, et al. Obesity and body fat classification in the metabolic syndrome: impact on cardiometabolic risk metabotype. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.). 2013;21(1):E154-161.
  9. Fuentes-Mattei E, Giza DE, Shimizu M, et al. Plasma Viral miRNAs Indicate a High Prevalence of Occult Viral Infections. EBioMedicine.
  10. Devaraj S, Cao J, Roper SM. To Fast or Not to Fast?: Comments on the Consensus Statement From the European Atherosclerosis Society/European Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine. Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine. 2016;141(4):487-489.
  11. Mandrioli R, Protti M, Mercolini L. Novel Atypical Antipsychotics: Metabolism and Therapeutic Drug Monitoring (TDM). Current drug metabolism. 2015;16(2):141-151.