OK, so we decided to use this page to point out some of the technology, both old and new, we think would help you in your lab. This is not an endorsement of the product and we have not been paid to say this, if we have used it or tested it then we'll say so. We want to engage with scientists at all levels and hear what you have to say and reciprocate.
In no particular order here is information on tech in the marketplace, what we like and what we'd sell our Grandmother to get...
Have you ever dreamt of replacing manual pipetting with a robot that you could afford, that uses your pipettes (Gilson), your tips and your reservoirs? Then look no further than 'Andrew', the effective, convenient pipetting robot from Andrew Alliance. The system is able to use different manual pipettes, selecting the most appropriate volume range to use for your protocol and automatically switches between pipettes. It sets the aspirate and dispense volume itself and identifies tips in the pipette box using machine vision. It aspirates and dispenses into micro plates, tubes and vessels. The 'deck' is completely flexible using stations designed for different labware, these are magnetic preventing mis-alignment. User software is free to download and evaluate on your computer to determine if it's right for your needs. Check out a video of Andrew in operation at Andrew Alliance.
Dispensing... dose-response curves
Do you perform numerous concentration-response curves? Can you dispense pico litre volumes with your pipette? If the answer is “yes” and “no” respectively, then you may want to consider the D300 Digital Dispenser, designed and built by Hewlett Packard and sold by Tecan. Designed using the same technology as your home printer, the bench top device is able to dispense pico litre droplets of compounds (in DMSO) directly into wells of a micro plate in volumes ranging from pico litres to ten micro litres, allowing an extremely flexible volume range covering several logs and eliminating serial dilutions. The disposable dispensing head has eight channels and is able to dispense eight compounds to any or all wells of the plate. Additional flexibility comes from the software, allowing compounds to be dispensed randomly within the destination plate, removing variability in the assay due to edge effects, evaporation and randomising controls on the plate. For scientists who perform numerous concentration-response curves this instrument will significantly reduce the time taken to generate data and significantly improve your compound data reproducibility. See the Tecan website for details.
Dispensing... plate to plate and dose response
The Echo liquid handler revolutionizes liquid handling with acoustic energy. Sound waves are used to eject precisely sized droplets from a source location onto a microplate, slide or other surface suspended above the source. This product does not use tips, pin tools or nozzles—completely eliminating contact between the instrument and the liquid. Fluids are transferred in nanoliter increments. Larger volumes are transferred at the rate of hundreds of droplets per second. The major advantage for drug discovery purposes is the negligible amount of DMSO transferred into the destination location making virtually eliminating vehicle effects in cell and biochemical assays. See the Labcyte website for details.
Ultrasonic Mixing in micro well plates...
Hendrix SM100 from MicroSonic Systems
The SM100 from Microsonic Systems uses a tune-able form of ultrasonic energy to rapidly mix, thaw and/or resuspend samples in standard labware. The “tune-able” bulk lateral ultrasonic (BLU) energy can also be dialed down to keep live cells alive and in suspension. It can be applied to a wide range of standard labware to include 96, 384, 1536 and 3456 well plates as well as 2D bar coded tubes from Matrix, Micronic and others. Picture (left) is a cross section image of a dye dispensed into DMSO in a 384 well plate showing a lack of mixing.
The SM100 applies ultrasonic energy to the sample through the bottom of a plate and is a 100% non-contact method. The plate rests in a temperature controlled coupling fluid (deionized water) to prevent the excessive heating seen with probe-based sonication methods that also make physical contact with the sample. The SM100 does not require any additional costly consumables in order to operate either. Picture (right) shows the same cross section after ultrasonic mixing - note the homogeneity of the solution. See the MicroSonic System website for details.
Alpha Technology: Read Out Technology for Micro Plate-Based Assays
The Alpha technology can be used for a number of applications but has been used most to replace ELISA assays, decreasing assay time, increasing assay fidelity and improving throughput. The assay relies on the proximity of two beads and the generation of singlet oxygen. Each bead is coated with Streptavidin or an antibody to the analyte. In the presence of the analyte, the beads are brought into proximity (up to 200nm). Excitation with light at 680nm results in the formation of a radical that is able to excite the second bead, resulting in an emission of light at 615nm. Only when the distance between the beads is small enough to allow the radical to activate the second bead will a signal be generated. The signal is proportional to the concentration of analyte. See the PerkinElmer website here for more details of the assay and the many applications now possible with Alpha Technology.
Cell Culture – new innovation that revolutionize cell growth and scaling up…
Corning® HYPERFlask® M is a relatively new, innovative cell culture vessel, allowing scientists that grow large numbers of cells the ability to increase productivity and decrease flask-to-flask variability in cell populations. The High Yield PERformance Flask Manual (HYPERFlask M) is based on a T175cm2 format containing 10 layers of growing surface, each layer has a gas-permeable film allowing gaseous exchange between cells, media and the environment. Layers are inter-connected by a canal for ease of filling. The operator dilutes cells to an appropriate density in 500ml of complete media and gradually pours the media plus cells into the HYPERFlask completely filling the structure. The lid is added and the flask turned flat to allow the cells to adhere to the growing surface (1720cm2 in total in one flask). The system maximizes the shelf space inside your incubator. Harvesting is as simple as processing a T175cm2 flask but ten times more efficient. If you perform bulking up of cells then try HYPERFlask, it saves time, reagent costs and improves cell consistency.