BioEcho Brings New Solutions to Nucleic Acid Extraction

Founded in 2016 and headquartered in Cologne, Germany, BioEcho provides solutions for nucleic acid extraction and analysis. The company’s EchoLUTION Kits provide an alternative to other nucleic acid extraction techniques. IBO spoke with Dr. Laura Torres Benito, Scientific Communications Manager for BioEcho, about the company and its product line.

Can you describe the history of the development of BioEcho’s EchoLUTION nucleic acid extraction technology?

Years back, our soon-to-be founder Dr. Markus Müller had an idea that would revolutionize nucleic acid extraction—an innovative technology for extracting DNA and RNA in just a single step, replacing silica-based methods with lengthy “bind-wash-elute” protocols.

The company’s history started in a cellar: Together with a small team, Markus started the first experiments in a provisional home lab. Soon, it was clear that this novel technology could overcome the limitations of standard procedures used in molecular biology laboratories and provide more convenience and faster results. Nucleic acid analysis technology has advanced dramatically during the last few decades. In contrast, the process of isolating DNA and RNA from biological samples barely evolved. The aim was to fulfill future needs and reduce the increasing gap between sample analysis and common nucleic acid extraction procedures, while also making laboratory routines or research more sustainable.

The idea became a product—EchoLUTION was born—and finally a company: BioEcho Life Sciences.

What drawbacks of other nucleic acid extraction technologies was the EchoLUTION technology specifically designed to address?

The EchoLUTION technology was designed to overcome several limitations associated with traditional nucleic acid extraction methods, such as silica-based and magnetic bead–based methods and, still, phenol-chloroform procedure for RNA isolation. EchoLUTION is an innovative and very simple technology, which encompasses tailored lysis and single-step purification.

The initial lysis step takes place under aqueous conditions, which increases the overall enzyme activity of proteases, resulting in a high extraction efficiency. The tailored EchoLUTION lysis ensures that the genetic material is isolated eliminating overnight cell disruption, while nucleic acids are under protected conditions.

Afterward, the lysate is transferred to a purification matrix, spin column– or well plate–contained, which allows the nucleic acid to pass through without any interaction. At the same time, impurities and debris are held back and completely removed. The advantages of EchoLUTION are clear: First, this novel technology implies a much simpler workflow, compared to other methods, drastically reducing the time to result. As it supersedes the numerous binding-washing-elution steps of commercially available methods, the actual purification is done in just a single step. This also implies that shear forces during repetitive centrifugations, potentially affecting the nucleic acid integrity, are reduced to a minimum. Additionally, it leads to high recovery of nucleic acids as fewer washing steps means less loss of RNA/DNA, especially with molecules that are too small to stick to established silica matrices. Further, EchoLUTION omits contaminants (e.g., phenol, beads and high-salt buffers), leading to purified nucleic acids free of inhibitors that can negatively affect downstream applications.

Finally, it is highly sustainable: EchoLUTION decreases up to 70 % the plastic waste, as fewer steps are needed during the procedure, and it reduces harmful and hazardous reagents to a minimum: no phenol, no high-salt buffers, no ethanol, etc.

How many kits does the company now offer? 

BioEcho Life Sciences offers kits for DNA and/or RNA extraction from various biological sample types: cell culture, tissue, plant, blood, virus (swabs or stool samples), FFPE tissue and buccal cells. Our portfolio provides a wide range of formats as well: from spin columns (10, 50 and 250 columns) to plates (48-, 96- and 384-well plates) for customers with high-throughput needs. The 384-plate format for the EchoLUTION Cell Culture RNA Kit is unique on the market. Additionally, we have nucleic acid cleanup kits, for those who still want to use their standard methods but need to improve their DNA/RNA quality for downstream applications and benefit from our single-step technology there.

The use of EchoLUTION technology spans many applications (infectious disease, agricultural biology biopharma R&D and academic research). Is there one application where the technology has demonstrated particular success in terms of customer demand?

For each of these markets, EchoLUTION is a great fit and brings value to our customers using it.

Currently, our new EchoLUTION Cell Culture RNA Kit is having a great reception in the biopharmaceutical market with scientists in drug discovery and development, including advanced therapy medicinal products (ATMPs), adapting to our technology. The kit is easy to integrate, as only standard laboratory equipment is needed, and offers a unique solution for high-throughput demands: the 384-plate format. Further, as sustainability is part of our mission, the product supports the ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) initiatives by reducing plastics and solvents and using reusable components. We are aware of how important it is in the field of biopharmaceuticals to advance development projects more quickly, as well as reduce costs, while delivering high-quality results. For that reason, we developed an ultra-fast lysis that, combined with the single-step EchoLUTION technology, makes the total RNA extraction 50%–70 % faster than other kits based on the bind-wash-elute procedure.

Can you provide details about any future product developments? 

RNA is where the journey goes: Next to be introduced is the EchoLUTION FFPE RNA Kit. FFPE tissues are a valuable data source for the study of diseases, especially in the oncology field. This product provides a simplified workflow for an efficient RNA extraction, an alternative to existing tedious extraction FFPE kits, while offering a more environmentally friendly solution (no use of hazardous xylene or other organic solvents).

Also, we are working on a protocol for RNA extraction from tissue samples, a solution that, again, can be automated for high throughputs and will be of high relevance to laboratories in biopharma, e.g., with the discovery and development of gene therapies.

Starting at the beginning of October, the EchoLUTION Viral RNA/DNA Kit will be available. This revised kit is CE-marked as well as complies with FDA regulations and is an FDA-listed IVD device, hence available to the US diagnostics market.

At BioEcho, we are never satisfied with the status quo, meaning we have many more products and solutions on our minds to facilitate scientists’ lives and to introduce sustainability into molecular biology laboratories.