Gain Flexibility in Virology Research with a Pipetting Robot

Researchers based in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Otago, New Zealand, have been working to understand both the mechanisms and clinical consequences of viruses that are prone to being drug resistant, alongside their work in antiviral drug discovery. The group is utilizing INTEGRA’s ASSIST PLUS and VOYAGER pipettes to help streamline a range of workflows.

Professor Miguel Quiñones-Mateu, the group’s Principal Investigator and the Webster Family Chair in Viral Pathogenesis outlined their work,

“Our lab is conducting research in a range of areas. We’re mainly interested in the properties of drug resistant viruses – such as transmission and pathogenicity – and applying this research to the evaluation of novel drug strategies aiming to eradicate HIV infections.”

Gain Flexibility in Virology Research with a Pipetting Robot

Image Credit: University of Otago

Cost-Effective and Compact

Using space in the most efficient way possible is an essential factor in any successful laboratory environment. Professor Quiñones-Mateu’s lab required a system with a small footprint, while also ensuring that this was economical.

We use a series of techniques for our work, including cell culture, PCR and next generation (deep) sequencing. When I took up my position here, I knew I simply couldn’t afford – or have room for – all of the robots and instruments I had used in my previous lab.”

Miguel Quiñones-Mateu, Professor and Principal Investigator, University of Otago

Professor Quiñones-Mateu continued, “I heard about INTEGRA from a colleague that I have collaborated with for many years, and he suggested the ASSIST PLUS pipetting robot because of its flexibility, small footprint and low cost compared to traditional robots. Instead of needing a number of expensive, task-designated instruments, the ASSIST PLUS could do all of the things I needed, and at a fraction of the cost.”

A Standalone Pipette or an Integrated System

VOYAGER adjustable tip spacing pipettes employ distinct motorized tip spacing, facilitating the fast parallel transfer of numerous samples between labware of varying formats and sizes.

These unique pipettes can be utilized as handheld devices, or they can be mounted onto the ASSIST PLUS pipetting robot for error-free pipetting and exceptional reproducibility.

The fact that you can take the VOYAGER pipette and use it separately makes a huge difference because you don’t have a designated robot sat idle for periods of time. Instead, I frequently use the VOYAGER pipettes on their own for liquid transfers, such as RNA samples, from tubes to 96 or 384 well plates – the adjustable tip spacing makes it so easy.”

Miguel Quiñones-Mateu, Professor and Principal Investigator, University of Otago

Ensuring Flexibility

Using the ASSIST PLUS in conjunction with a VOYAGER adjustable tip spacing pipette provides the flexibility necessary to meet the requirements of a wide range of workflows, enabling users to automatically undertake a range of pipetting tasks based on pre-programmed settings.

I absolutely love the system, it’s so easy to use, and there are so many different things you can do with it. Flexibility is key for me because of the breadth of areas we are studying, and the range of different techniques we are using. Not only are we using the ASSIST PLUS for drug discovery workflows, but for a host of other activities too.

Miguel Quiñones-Mateu, Professor and Principal Investigator, University of Otago

Professor Quiñones-Mateu added, “For instance, we are conducting metagenomics studies on yellow-eyed penguins – these birds have been dying in New Zealand and we are trying to work out why!

We’re taking samples that have been collected from these penguins, and using the platform to automate an entire workflow for isolating DNA and RNA, including a magnetic bead-based purification workflow. It really is so versatile. I’m going from dispensing cells and drugs to automating workflows for penguin samples – it’s just amazing!”

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: Aug 5, 2020 at 9:22 AM

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