Optimizing the Molecular Diagnostics Workflow – Frequently Asked Questions


Safeguard your valuable research and limit resource waste by maintaining an efficient molecular diagnostics workflow.

There’s little room for error when it comes to biological innovation.

For independent testing and reference laboratories, having an unoptimized molecular diagnostics workflow can often be the tipping point between life-changing discoveries and shuttered operations.  A small mistake during the initial sample collection can jeopardize detection results.  Missing something during the extraction step can render amplification useless.  Poor storage practices can quickly send you back to square one.

Regardless of where the workflow gaps are, the resulting impact can include wasted time, wasted money, decreased lab morale, unusable samples, and worse.  Even if your facility is producing effective results and compelling research, chances are that at least one area of your workflow could be reinforced to help optimize the business end of your laboratory.

Remaining airtight during every phase helps ensure that you’re getting the most out of your valuable resources while minimizing human error.  To assist you in getting started, we’ve assembled a brief list of Frequently Asked Questions surrounding each of the five workflow steps.  Our molecular diagnostics technical experts hear these often, so why not share them with the world?

Step #1 – Collection


  1. Patient comfort is especially important to my lab.  Are there any solutions for non-invasive sample collection methods?  Yes, there are several products that can meet your collection needs without the discomfort of a nasopharyngeal swab – including nasal swabs, oropharyngeal swabs, and saliva.
  2. I’ve been using saline to transport samples in but am getting a weak signal.  What other options do I have?  This can vary based on sample types and your lab’s workflow – but Thomas Scientific has options available to suit every need including VTM, MTM, and ATM.
  3. My lab’s sample collection needs are very unique.  What options do I have outside of the traditional?  A reliable distributor will provide customized, full sample collection kit fulfillment to meet your specific needs, with multiple options for various swab, tube, and transport media types.  Turn to Thomas Scientific for assistance.

Learn more and shop Thomas Scientific’s sample collection products.

Step #2 – Extraction


  1. What extraction method does viral transport media (VTM) require?  While not all transport media require cleanup, magnetic bead or spin column will both suffice for VTM.
  2. Is extraction always required right when samples arrive on site?  This is dependent on many factors, but the short answer is no.  Our team at Thomas Scientific can actually help you move towards an extraction-free process.
  3. Can I be guaranteed KingFisher product fulfillment?  At this time, most manufacturers and distributors cannot make an absolute guarantee due to extreme demand.  That said, at Thomas Scientific, we are very well-positioned thanks to our secure supply chain and strong manufacturer relationship.  We also offer Thomas Inventory Management Solutions services to help ensure your operations remain in optimal working order.  Visit ThomasSci.com/VMI-Services for more information.

Learn more and shop Thomas Scientific’s extraction products.

Step #3 – Amplification


  1. What method of amplification is best suited to test for the presence of viruses?  qPCR is the CDC recommended method, but end-point PCR with detection after amplification can also be used with the right master mix.
  2. What is the difference between PCR and ELISA?  The PCR (polymerase chain reaction) process produces many copies of DNA and pinpoints whether an organism exists in the sample.  ELISA, on the other hand, is useful for identifying if antigens/antibodies exist in a blood sample,
  3. Is there any way for my lab to automate the aliquoting process?  Yes!  We offer a variety of cappers/decappers, liquid handlers, automated heat sealers, and more here at Thomas to help you save money and time over the long run.

Learn more and shop Thomas Scientific’s sample amplification products.

Step #4 – Detection


  1. What instruments should I use for detection?  This depends on the amplification method.  For qPCR, amplification and detection occur at the same time.  For end-point PCR, a plate reader such as the Tecan Spark is well suited.
  2. Our lab is interested in multiplexing. How can your company help?  Multiplexing can save sample resources by allowing you to measure the expressions of multiple genes in a reaction.  We offer a number of products including electrophoresis instruments, gels, and reagents to help get the job done.

Learn more and shop Thomas Scientific’s molecular diagnostics detection products.

Step #5 – Storage


  1. Do all of your storage tubes meet ASTM standards?  Most manufacturers’ tubes will not be pressure tested for an ability to withstand leaks at 95 kPA (14psi).  They may work but have not been tested and verified in these conditions.  Corning's products with plug seal caps are an example of one that is verified to ASTM standards.
  2. How should my storage requirements vary if I’m saving samples for longer-term research rather than rapid patient testing?  Most transport tubes are not suitable for testing at <-70°C for long periods due to their thinner tube walls and butyl seal (if any seal).  A true cryovial – with its thicker walls and silicon or TPE seals – will withstand the potentially deleterious effects of cold storage.

Learn more and shop Thomas Scientific’s sample storage products.

Get a full custom consultation on your lab’s unique workflow from a Thomas Scientific technical expert.

These questions only scratch the surface of what can be done to optimize workflow efficiency within your independent testing or reference laboratory.

At Thomas Scientific, we have a team of Molecular Diagnostics technical experts ready and waiting to consult with you regarding your lab’s unique workflow.  From new innovative product offerings to minor improvements, we’ll provide you with custom solutions that can save big over the long run.

Reach out to us at MDxSupport@thomassci.com to get the process underway!

Latest Articles


Unraveling the Versatility of Improvacuter: A Journey from Blood Tubes to Boundless Applications

In the realm of medical diagnostics, one remarkable tool that has revolutionized the process of blood sample collection and analysis is the Improvacuter tube.

Read More >


Revolutionizing Sustainability

Whirl-Pak's flexible pouches are a game-changing solution for businesses looking to enhance their sustainability efforts. Whirl-Pak containers offer a lightweight, efficient alternative to traditional rigid bottles, reducing waste, emissions, & water usage during their lifecycle.

Read More >


How to Choose Your Ideal Lab Refrigerator

Discover your ideal lab refrigerator! From temperature control to safety features, our latest blog guides you through the journey of choosing the perfect laboratory refrigeration. Explore cold storage features and frills at their finest.

Read More >

Write A Comment