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Come along with me today while I broaden my knowledge of one of our newest products, an HIV RNA quantitative PCR control. I’ll be chatting with Thomas Parks, the lead molecular scientist on the development team for this highly innovative material.

First, I’ll fill you in at rapid speed with what I know already.

Advanced Biotechnologies released HIV-1 (IIIB Strain) Quantitative Viral RNA as a new product in 2018. This HIV RNA quantitative PCR molecular standard is especially helpful for validation of clinical laboratory tests and verification and validation of diagnostic laboratory tests because:

  • – It contains the entire viral genomic RNA, so you can amplify any sequence
  • – It’s non-infectious, so manipulations can be done outside of biological containment
  • – It’s purified RNA, making it free of host cell contaminants
  • – It’s quantitated by digital RT-PCR
  • – It’s ready for downstream applications

Now let’s soak up some fresh knowledge…

Meet Tom. He’s a husband, and father of five. (Yes. Five. I had to double check that I had heard him correctly because, five?!) He has been involved with molecular research for the last 21 years. When he’s not suited up with a pipette in hand you might find him camping, kayaking, wood working, or tackling a house project. I’ve never had a conversation with Tom that I didn’t enjoy. Somehow he never appears to be stressed out and always has a friendly smile. Grab a can of your favorite flavored seltzer water with me, and let’s take a peek into the mind of Thomas Parks.

Tom, thank you for taking the time to talk with me. As an expert on this product’s development, I’m very interested to hear all you have to say about it. Let’s start from the top: How would you describe this product?

It is a full-length viral RNA provided in a dry format and is stable for long periods of time at room temperature. It is RNA that is isolated from native HIV, and contains no synthetic RNA.

What is it about this product that you find the most innovative?

It is a room temperature stable product. Usually RNA has a very limited shelf life, even in ideal conditions. Most are frozen. This material is dry and simple to reconstitute. We package them in single use quantities. We provide it at a concentration similar to what is found in acute HIV infected clinical samples.

Freeing up valuable cold storage space sounds like a plus too. All of those things sound like it’s very efficient for the user. You mentioned that it’s simple to reconstitute this dried material. How simple?

Basically, you add 25 µL of Molecular Grade Water to it and wait for 10 minutes. We have a product sheet that we send with the material that gives the exact instructions.

(Click here to visit the product page FAQs which include a PDF of these downloadable instructions.)

What uses did your team have in mind when developing this HIV RNA quantitative PCR  product?

We intended for it to be used primarily as an assay standard for doing molecular diagnostics of HIV. It can also be used for a spike-in control for extraction, and would work well for RNA recovery.

What is this product NOT intended for?

It is not an extremely useful product for mutation analysis, RT-activity assays, or ELISA based assays such as p24 analysis. It’s strictly an HIV molecular standard.

I’m very curious to hear what issues you personally envision that this product will help solve?

It gives a standard that people can use from lab to lab to get correlative results. Right now different labs use different standards. With this RNA you can have a base that everyone can measure from the same standard. They can compare their results directly. Although there are other standards out there, this is strictly an RNA so it’s very straightforward.

As someone who has been working in the molecular HIV field for many years, are there any research studies regarding HIV that you have noticed lately that have especially piqued your interest?

A lot of the research now is looking at latent reservoirs with HIV patients. By using drug treatment they are able to bring down the viral load to undetectable levels, but the patient is still infected. Researchers are looking for ways to identify and destroy these latent reservoirs, so people can be completely cured.

That is really fascinating. I want to look up that research now. Before our time is over today, is there anything else that you want to be sure people know about this HIV-1 Quantitative Viral RNA?

Sure. I think it’s important to note that since it contains the full-length HIV genome, you can use this product for anything that you need the whole genome for.

Thank you, Tom! I really appreciate your time. I’ll add here that if anyone has a specific question about this product or how it relates to their specific project they can contact our Tech Support by clicking here.

While the entire team here at Advanced Biotechnologies is thrilled to see how this new product will bring progress to the HIV research and clinical community, I am so thankful for Tom to take time from his busy schedule to share his knowledge and thoughts with us.

I had to sneak in just one more question with Tom. There was something I just had to ask:

What got you into the molecular field?

Growing up on a farm, I was always very interested in how things work (farm machinery, diesel engines, etc.). Molecular biology is the same thing but on a much smaller scale. There are a lot of things that happen on that small level, and it’s amazing to see how it all fits together in a grand and elaborate design. It’s also fascinating to manipulate these designs and processes that nature has provided for you and make them work to solve other problems.

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