A PCR cabinet is a specialised type of microbiological safety cabinet, designed for use in an industrial setting in which multiple DNA manipulation processes may be carried out in succession.

Here we explain why a cabinet of this type can be so useful in an industrial, medical or research setting, and take a look at the Aura PCR cabinet from EuroClone, which is available from Tecomak.

What is a PCR Cabinet?

The initials PCR stand for Polymerase Chain Reaction. This is the process by which DNA is amplified, which means being grown and cultivated, in a laboratory setting. PCR makes it possible to create millions of DNA molecules by copying just one, so it is vital that the sample is not contaminated and remains sterile. A controlled environment is therefore essential.

The challenge is to ensure that the DNA amplified on one session does not contaminate the DNA being worked with in the next session, potentially leading to misleading results. This risk is known as “carry-over”. PCR cabinets offer a specialised method for preventing contamination, built into the cabinet itself. This is achieved by exposing the materials to powerful UV light within a secure enclosed area.

Using this type of specialist microbiological safety cabinet can bring significant time savings for DNA labs handling a steady schedule of work, ensuring best practice and guarding against the risk of cross-contamination. With this type of cabinet in general, the emphasis is on protection of the sample rather than protection of the operator. However, safety features which protect operators are obviously something you will want to bear in mind when choosing a cabinet for your workplace.

Where Is It Used?

Cabinets specifically designed to block DNA carry-over may be used in any biological processing facility which is involved in the amplification or other processing of DNA on a regular basis.

This can include various areas of hospitals, including surgical facilities, as well as clinics for specialties such as haematology, oncology and IVF, where biological samples need to be examined in detail. Avoiding contamination is equally vital for pathology labs, while air handling equipment used in a medical setting could also need protection.

However, hospital departments are not the only areas where a PCR cabinet could be needed. Protection of DNA samples is also necessary in research labs, including those in universities. Groundbreaking research such as studies of stem cells rely on exact results, making it vital to avoid any contamination risk. This applies equally to specialist animal research facilities.

Industrial laboratories covering fields such as development of pharmaceutical and chemical products, as well as other sectors such as food manufacture, could also require the cabinets. Many aspects of production are constantly tested in all these settings, so it is essential to ensure that all results involving DNA are reliable and there is no risk of false positives caused by carry-over.

The Aura PCR Cabinet from Tecomak

The Aura PCR workstation is manufactured by specialist company EuroCloneand supplied to hospitals, labs and other facilities within the UK by Tecomak. This is a recirculating fume cupboard, which is non-ventilated. It is built to be easy and efficient to operate, and complies with EN 61010-1, which governs electrical equipment’s safety in laboratories, as well as machine directive 89/392 EC, which includes electromagnetic compatibility.

This PCR cabinet is specifically designed to contain DNA processing, including the pre-amplification stage, where samples are being prepared for DNA amplification, the amplification of molecules and the post-amplification neutralisation process.

Once the Aura has been closed following the completion of a working process, it can easily be decontaminated. The unit equipped with three UV lights, which can be activated via a timer control. This will neutralise any DNA contamination from all the surfaces and equipment contained within the cabinet. When the decontamination cycle has completed, the machine will automatically go back to normal operational mode, with its fluorescent lights switched on instead of the UV ones.

The Aura’s cabinet is made from tempered glass with a 6mm thickness, which shields personnel working in the surrounding area from any exposure to UV radiation and also protects the surrounding environment. A built-in safeguard means that, if the front window were to be opened in error, the UV lights would shut off instantly, giving complete safety for operators.

If you are considering installing a PCR cabinet, Tecomak Environmental Services can give you specialist advice. As specialists in fume cupboard and cleanroom services, we not only supply and install the Aura PCR, but can also provide expert maintenance, monitoring and testing.

PCR Cabinet – Contact Tecomak now for more information about how our expert services can help you.