Innovative Cambridge Vaccine Firm Chooses ProtoCOL 3 Colony Counter

12 Apr 2013
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Synbiosis, a world-leading manufacturer of automated microbiological systems, is pleased to announce its ProtoCOL 3 automated colony counter is being successfully used at innovative UK vaccines company, ImmunoBiology Ltd (ImmBio) in Cambridge to speed up testing throughput of their bacterial meningitis vaccines.

Scientists at ImmBio are using a Synbiosis ProtoCOL 3 to count thousands of small colonies of Neisseria meningitidis plated out post Serum Bactericidal Assay (SBA). The purchase of the ProtoCOL 3 by ImmBio is supported by a research and development grant from the Technology Strategy Board as part of the government-backed Biomedical Catalyst. Using the ProtoCOL 3 is helping researchers at ImmBio to rapidly determine the efficacy of new vaccines against bacterial meningitis.


Claire Entwisle, Head of Laboratory at ImmBio explained: “Regulatory requirements mean we have to use an SBA test to establish vaccine efficacy and since we are testing a number of different prototype vaccines we count around 100-150 colonies in each of 8 streaks on a square SBA plate. We have around 70 of these plates to count every week so this would be time consuming and difficult to maintain consistency of results if we did it manually. We visited the NIBSC [National Institute for Biological Standards and Control] to see what their scientists used to quality assure bacterial vaccines. That’s when we saw the ProtoCOL software and knew this would help us speed up our testing efforts.”

Claire continued: “The ProtoCOL 3 is manufactured in Cambridge, giving us added confidence and the system comes with a specific software programme for analysing SBA plates, both of which swayed our decision to purchase the ProtoCOL 3 for our work. For us, the benefits of using the system are saving time, as well as accuracy and consistency of count. Many of our colonies are very close together or touching and the software copes well with interpreting these. We are so pleased with the way the ProtoCOL 3 performs that we even intend to use it in future for the more difficult application of counting Streptococcus pneumoniae colonies on blood agar plates as we know that the lighting options on the ProtoCOL 3 will allow us to distinguish and count the almost opaque red colonies on a red background.”


Martin Smith at Synbiosis commented: “Bacterial meningitis is a serious illness and we’re delighted to hear the ProtoCOL 3 is helping scientists at this innovative Cambridge vaccine company to help improve the productivity of their important vaccine trials. The ProtoCOL 3 system’s unique lighting and software combination has been developed over a decade until it is now widely acknowledged internationally as the leading technology for post SBA colony count analysis. The studies at ImmBio further demonstrate how adding a ProtoCOL 3 automated colony counter to an SBA workflow can significantly speed up the development of novel bacterial vaccines.”

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Sarah Thomas
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