SandstoneDx have a very neat mini-centrifuge that enables plasma separation from fresh blood draws at point-of-collection. Anyone performing liquid biopsy knows how vital plasma stability is. If nucleated blood cells lyse then the sample can be ruined for ctDNA analysis. Most people in Oncology already understand this (and are using Streck tubes), but as epigenomics analysis rolls-out liquid biopsy is likely to moves into non-oncology fields so a great number fo new users will need to consider this.


The Torq system, aims to improve liquid biopsy sample shipping stability. It allows immediate on-site centrifugation and plasma separation prior to shipping. The system looks very simple in concept: specialised ZDiscs are available for processing 250 μL, 3 mL, and 8 mL blood volumes and are under vacuum to enable simple blood loading direct from the patient.

Two recent conference presentations; AACR abstract 3103 and ASCO abstract present data and claims of ~4X lower hemolysis , ~10X lower gDNA contamination, and ~20X higher cfDNA signal-to-noise compared to Streck tubes after 7 days of storage at room temperature. Data on their website suggest improved cfDNA sensitivity over standard methods, with plasma separated by Torq showing up to 30X improved signal-to-noise when comparing signal from target 150-200bp cfDNA to contaminating longer length genomic sequences (Fig 5B).


Given that a StarLabs minifuge costs just £200 this could be a cost-effective tool for in-clinic plasma separation enabling improved point-of-care diagnostics tools too.