How to Use Reagent Reservoirs to Overcome Dead Volume

Being unable to efficiently pipette liquids can become a limiting factor in any life sciences field.

There is a real cost to every microliter wasted, whether it is a result of the restricted availability of precious samples that have taken weeks (or months) to produce, or the use of costly reagents for example antibodies, probes, and enzymes.

The value of reagents or samples must be evaluated against throughput and productivity because using a single channel pipette able to access those last few microliters is a time-consuming and labor-intensive process.

Multichannel pipettes enable a more efficient and reproducible assay setup, but to optimize productivity, they must be used along with reagent reservoirs. The high dead volumes of the majority of reservoirs can increase the cost of experiments which can be a limitation, but this does not have to be the case.

Choosing Between Productivity and Cost

Next-generation sequencing (NGS) is a brilliant example of the requirement to balance expenses against productivity. The high cost of NGS reagents is a contentious issue for every laboratory working in this field.

This technique has been adopted in an increasing number of applications and laboratories due to the gradual decline in the cost of sequencing equipment in recent years.

The cost of library preparation has continued to be high, mostly because of the requirement for several costly reaction mixes and enzymes to transform RNA or DNA to individual libraries ready for sequencing.

The cost of analysis is also enhanced due to the time needed to accurately perform all of the required low volume pipetting steps.

Multichannel electronic pipettes can extensively decrease the time necessary for library preparation in tube racks or microplates, but it has a major weakness.

Reagent reservoirs must be used to fully exploit the advantages. Any experienced bench scientist will know that conventional reagent reservoirs can be highly wasteful because of their high dead volumes.

For low-cost reagents such as solvents or buffers, this is not significant, but it is a critical issue for costly PCR master mixes, as they are too expensive to waste hundreds of microliters at a time.

The user then must return to filling every tube or well individually with a single channel pipette.

INTEGRA agree that cost and productivity are equally important, so its engineers were challenged to discover a solution.

As the engineers were from INTEGRA engineers, they did not simply create a reagent reservoir with a very low dead volume, they produced one that makes pipetting simpler and decreases any laboratory’s reagent reservoir costs simultaneously.

INTEGRA’s Clear Advantage multichannel reagent reservoirs were first launched in 2008 and save space and money by utilizing disposable inserts that fit into reusable bases.

Provided in sizes of 10, 25 and 100 ml, these reservoirs are engineered to nest within each other, decreasing shipping costs, plastic waste, and inventory space requirements.

Each insert fits into a reusable base with easy-to-see volume graduation markings and is made of crystal clear, 100% virgin polystyrene or polypropylene.

Each insert also has a molded pour back spout enabling the customer to return surplus fluid to a source container if the protocol allows for it.

The design which saves on space and cost has now been merged with INTEGRA’s pioneering SureFlo™ technology to assist in decreasing dead volumes.

SureFlo operates on a simple but powerful concept. A series of tiny channels allows pipette tips to sit on the bottom of the reservoir without creating a vacuum or sealing.

This makes sure that reagents can flow smoothly and prevents liquid ‘popping’ into filters, pipettes, or tips which is an issue that can increase pipette maintenance, cross-contamination, and inaccurate results.

Every reservoir additionally has our specially produced hydrophilic treatment that stops the pooling of liquid and results in the lowest dead volumes on the market, with all reservoirs providing dead volumes of less than 50 μl.

To reduce wastage even more, INTEGRA’s most recent divided reagent reservoir has side-by-side 5 and 10 ml volume compartments.

It can be used in combination with the VOYAGER adjustable tip spacing electronic pipette to provide efficient and convenient dispensing into 96 or 384 well plates.

This reservoir has an exceptionally low dead volume of less than 10 µl on the 5 ml side, which is well-suited for PCR master mixes and other expensive reagents where every microliter is valuable.

Time is Money

After the cost of the reagents has been considered, any laboratory manager or supervisor should then assess the length of time taken to manually prepare NGS libraries, even with a multichannel pipette.

A clear solution to this issue is laboratory automation which helps to extensively decrease contact time, along with reducing the risk of human errors that could create erroneous results and/or the costly repetition of experiments.

Not all laboratories have the space, expertise, or budget for liquid handling robots. INTEGRA has developed the ASSIST PLUS pipetting robot to resolve this issue.

The ASSIST PLUS is a convenient and inexpensive benchtop system that can be used in combination with any VIAFLO or VOYAGER multichannel electronic pipette to provide remote automation of microplate pipetting.

The dual reservoir adapter which has been recently launched makes this system suitable for assays requiring sequential addition of multiple low volume reagent mixes.

This adapter contains two 10 ml, 25 ml or divided reagent reservoirs side by side in an aluminum frame, and can be chilled beforehand to keep reagents cool throughout processing.

Time to Make the Switch and Save

If a laboratory still believes that a single channel pipette is the only tool to avoid reagent and sample loss, or is wasting costly reagents by utilizing reservoirs with high dead volumes, then it must consider changing to Clear Advantage reagent reservoirs to save time and money.

Choose cost-effective automated liquid handling with the ASSIST PLUS pipetting robot to further maximize employee satisfaction and laboratory productivity.

About INTEGRA

INTEGRA provides innovative solutions for Liquid Handling and Media Preparation applications which serve the needs of their customers in research, diagnostics and quality control laboratories.

Their instruments and plastic consumables are developed and manufactured in Zizers, Switzerland and Hudson, NH USA. In order to remain close to their customers, they maintain a direct sales and support organization in North America, the UK, France and Germany, as well as a network of over 100 highly trained distribution partners worldwide.

In recent years they have focused on developing a new and technologically advanced range of handheld electronic pipettes which are simple to use and meet the ergonomic needs of their customers.

Today they are proud to offer the widest range of electronic pipettes in the market spanning a range from single channel pipettes up to 384 channel bench-top instruments.


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Last updated: Oct 8, 2019 at 2:21 AM

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