Reproducibility of results and high throughput are crucial goals for many molecular biology labs, but it can be challenging to achieve these together without appropriate instrumentation. This creates a need for reliable instruments to minimize user error and perform accurate measurements consistently for numerous samples.
Image Credit: INTEGRA Biosciences and University of Florida
Ahuva Odenheimer, a senior research associate working on behalf of venture capital firm Flagship Pioneering, explained: “Many of the techniques used in molecular biology labs, such as PCR, consist of multistep protocols that involve sample or reagent transfers between different labware formats, or the processing of large sample volumes to obtain the necessary data. The use of specialized electronic pipettes helps to create efficient workflows for such critical work.”
“I joined Flagship Pioneering – which backs various innovative start-ups in areas such as life sciences, sustainability and digital health – in January 2020, to work on a project exploring new cancer biomarkers. After a couple of months, I recommended that we invested in two VOYAGER adjustable tip spacing pipettes, as I knew from personal experience that the VOYAGER would be perfect for our workflows.”
Reformatting at the touch of a button
The VOYAGER offers automatic adjustment of tip spacing between 4.5 and 33 mm, making transfers between different labware formats easy. With the simple touch of a button, it's possible to quickly transfer multiple samples, which increases throughput and reproducibility. Ahuva continued: “We're working on biomarkers for cancer, mostly with human samples, although we also use animal disease models. Our research is mainly focused on molecular biology techniques, and so involves a lot of next generation sequencing and PCR, which requires extensive tube to plate transfers and library preparation protocols. When I started, we had fixed spaced multichannel or single channel pipettes, but they were both manual and I found them uncomfortable to use for long periods of time. I’m so happy that we were able to switch to the VOYAGER, and we now have the flexibility of having both the 125 and 12.5 µl models.”
Pre-set programs for more efficient pipetting
Using pre-set programs minimizes repetitive steps and helps to reduce risk of error. Ahuva continued: “My first experience with an INTEGRA pipette was a few years ago when I used a VOYAGER in a different laboratory. We were developing an oral treatment for Streptococcus mutans to try and reduce cavities, and the process involved very repetitive qPCR work, which meant a lot of repeat dispensing and pipetting. I loved the VOYAGER immediately! The pre-set programs were perfect for qPCR reactions, especially the Pipet/Mix and Repeat Dispense modes, and it made our workflows so much simpler to run. I also found that it improved reproducibility and precision, as there was less chance of pipetting error. When I started to use the VOYAGER again at Flagship Pioneering, I had no problems picking it back up, it’s so intuitive and easy to use.”
“The VOYAGER really helps to speed up the research process, and to avoid burnout in the lab. For example, this week I processed 47 samples, transferring from tube to plate, then plate to tube, then back from tube to plate again! After that, I then had to add primers from tubes into the plate. There are so many steps where I could lose concentration and make mistakes, and having a multichannel pipette like the VOYAGER that can transfer multiple samples simultaneously between different labware formats is fantastic for avoiding this.”
“All the INTEGRA products I’ve used so far have been amazing. In fact, there's now another scientist in my lab who is just as excited about them as I am. She loves using the VOYAGER and is always excited when she discovers new features. I’ve enjoyed trying all the different settings and exploring all the ways that I can use the VOYAGER, its flexibility is fantastic, and I use it wherever I can,” Ahuva concluded.