- I am a biophysics graduate student in the labs of George Church and William Shih.
- I am also a teaching assistant for Harvard's 2006 iGEM team.
- Find out more at my personal website.
Contract M13 phage ssDNA Production
The following outlines my recent experience with contract research. We attempted to outsource the production and purification of single-stranded DNA produced by M13 phage. It wasn't a happy experience, but hopefully someone will find this useful.
- Lambda biotech (emailed 3/2/06)
- Wisconsin Bioproducts (voicemail left 3/3/06)
- Geneblitz (emailed 3/8/06)
- FIT biotech (emailed 3/8/06)
- Commonwealth Biotech (emailed 4/12/06)
- Maxim Biotech (emailed 4/12/06)
- ATG Labs - firstname.lastname@example.org (emailed 4/12/06)
- Seracare (emailed 4/12/06)
- Retrogen (emailed 4/12/06)
- US Biological - email@example.com (emailed 4/12/06)
Initial response promising a quote, followed by zero communication
- Marinbio (emailed 3/8/06, 3/26/06, several other times)
- Nature Technology Corporation (natx) - (emailed 3/2, 3/8, 3/23, 3/27, 4/3, 4/12) Shipped them a sample to begin pre-production on 3/27. Was informed that my sample was "quarantined" on 4/3, and then no further responses were received.
Response received, but not offering M13 ssDNA production
- Genscript (emailed 3/9, response 3/9)
- Lark (emailed 3/9, responses 3/9, 3/13, 3/14)
- Agencourt (emailed 3/6, response 3/7, 3/13)
- Invitrogen (emailed 3/8, response 3/15)
- Puresyn (emailed 4/4, response 4/5, including phone call followup)
- MWG Biotech (emailed 4/12, response 4/12)
- Paragon (emailed 4/12, response 4/12)
- Althea Technologies (emailed 4/4, response 4/6)
- Plasmid Factory (emailed 4/4, response 4/11)
|Company||10 mg||20 mg||50 mg||100 mg||500 mg||1000 mg|
We placed an order with Ocimum Biosolutions for 1000 mg of ssDNA. The contract they proposed was to deliver 100-200 mg within 14 days, 300 mg within 21 days, and the remaining 500-600 mg within 28 days. After 21 days, Ocimum was able to deliver 10 mg of highly-contaminated ssDNA (see the nice smear in the last two lanes of the gel below).
|0||1kb DNA ladder (4 μL)|
|1||Shih Lab ssDNA (1 μL)||AGLB (2 μL) + dH2O (to 12 μL)|
|2||Shih Lab ssDNA (5 μL)||AGLB (2 μL) + dH2O (to 12 μL)|
|3||Ocimum ssDNA (1 μL)||AGLB (2 μL) + dH2O (to 12 μL)|
|4||Ocimum ssDNA (5 μL)||AGLB (2 μL) + dH2O (to 12 μL)|
We went with the deceptively low bid, and after 3 weeks we received what would have amounted to 1/50th of what we were promised by that time, and 1/100th of our total order -- that is, if it had been clean, usable DNA. In the subsequent two weeks of extremely tedious negotiations, Ocimum refused to offer any discount or compensation, and failed to guarantee any future delivery schedule, and we were ultimately forced to cancel our order.