Touch and Go: Techne's new Touchgene thermal cycler

Americans, in general, are notoriously impatient. We have fast food, overnight mail, instant coffee, and even drive-through pharmacies. American science, in its own way, has been affected by this unrelenting dash for the finish line. However, this was not always so. When science was in its infancy, a scientist could lead what was considered to be a respected and productive career whether or not he had contributed to the latest journals, secured an exclusive patent, or won a prestigious prize. T

Brent Johnson
Mar 14, 1999

Americans, in general, are notoriously impatient. We have fast food, overnight mail, instant coffee, and even drive-through pharmacies. American science, in its own way, has been affected by this unrelenting dash for the finish line. However, this was not always so. When science was in its infancy, a scientist could lead what was considered to be a respected and productive career whether or not he had contributed to the latest journals, secured an exclusive patent, or won a prestigious prize. There was an appreciation of the scientific process as a kind of meditation. Not coincidentally, many of the notable figures in science history were cloistered monks. How could scientists such as Gregor Mendel while away the weeks and months counting wrinkled peas? There is no doubt that the spirit of the times has changed, and science has changed with it.


Techne's Touchgene Thermal Cycler
Today, the emphasis is on results. The once untroubled tempo of monastic scholarship has given way to the era of big science. Indeed, when the loss of a few weeks of research can realistically correlate to lives lost or millions of dollars earned, the speed at which experiments can be completed becomes a matter of critical importance.

One of the instruments that has experienced the pressure of increasing speed through dramatic design changes is the thermal cycler. Although it was invented only a brief 10 years ago, the thermal cycler has undergone a radical evolution in construction, barely resembling its predecessors. Yet even as the need for faster ramping rates and greater well capacity has altered the appearance and the performance of the instrument, the thermal cycler remains somewhat of a chimera. Once the cycler lid is closed and the PCR reaction has begun, the scientist has only to sit and wait, hoping that the reaction is progressing as it should.

Techne has recently joined the ranks of manufacturers such as Perkin-Elmer and MJ Research by unveiling its new Touchgene thermal cycler with real-time quantitative capability.

The Touchgene is Techne's flagship thermal cycler for the new century. While using certain innovations that were designed into the Genius thermal cycler, the Touchgene has ascended to the next level of PCR amplification with features such as interchangeable blocks, a touch-sensitive display, and a real-time graphical representation of both sample block and calculated sample temperatures. In fact, the Touchgene has the largest screen display of any thermal cycler currently in existence. The unusual size of the touch-sensitive display not only enhances the ease of viewing, but it also assists users who are operating the device with gloved hands.

In addition, an advanced software package permits the user to control up to 32 cyclers from one computer and includes features such as self-diagnosis, data logging, and password protection. One of the most distinctive elements of this new instrument, however, is a removable data card that allows alternative memory storage. Data cards can be particularly useful for companies that have a large number of research associates. The cards can be personalized and exchanged with other researchers within the company using a variety of protocols.

The author, Brent Johnson, can be contacted at bjohnson @the-scientist.com. For more information about the Touchgene, please contact Techne at (800) 225-9243, or visit the company Web site at www.techneuk.co.uk.