Many experiments require repetitive pipetting steps, from setting up a dilution series to assembling hundreds of PCR or sequencing assays. While manual pipetting may seem unavoidable for many researchers, modern liquid handling stations can take care of a range tasks, from simple liquid transfers to complex assay set up. Such systems free scientists to use their expertise for more technical endeavors.
The Drawbacks of Manual Pipetting
Repetitive laboratory tasks can take a toll on the body. Prolonged, manual pipetting stresses scientists’ hands, wrists, arms, and shoulders, leading to disorders including carpal tunnel syndrome.1 Chronic pain associated with these disorders can lead to pipetting inaccuracies and even force some researchers to leave the bench.
In addition to the effects of physical fatigue, repetitive pipetting tasks are tedious and can easily cause a researcher to lose their focus and make mistakes. Such pipetting errors lead to failed assays or inaccurate results.
Modern Liquid Handling for Every Laboratory
The BRAND Liquid Handling Station (LHS) automates pipetting tasks for a variety of vessels, including reservoirs, tubes, and 96- and 384-well plates. Useful for routine pipetting tasks, experiments with complex pipetting patterns, and assays where speedy mixing is key, researchers can integrate this compact instrument into their existing laboratory spaces and workflows.
The LHS has seven work positions and six liquid-handling ends, which scientists can easily fit with different single- or multi-channel pipette heads. Researchers can equip it with various accessories, including heated shakers and cooling blocks, to meet different experimental needs.
The LHS software guides users through method creation and worktable setup. Researchers can program a simulated protocol before the actual run and receive email and sound notifications during the process. With the help of the software, researchers can easily develop and save pipetting programs for commonly-performed experiments, including dilution series, PCRs, ELISAs, and enzyme assays.
The LHS shines in testing samples during process validation. For example, special instrument cleaners must remove residues and contaminants from surgical instruments prior to disinfection processes. To assess cleaning performance, scientists must routinely monitor cleaned instruments, such as scalpels and forceps, by quantifying leftover protein residue. Automated liquid handlers make such processes efficient and reliable. One validation service provider involved in instrument testing used the BRAND LHS on protein- and SDS-containing samples and found that it consistently pipetted sample replicates, leading to accurate protein measurements.2
Keeping Experiments Contaminant Free
Manually pipetting into 384-well plates when setting up sequencing experiments is tedious, exhausting, and time consuming. Additionally, having a plate exposed to the open air for the time it takes to complete numerous pipetting steps puts samples at risk for contamination.
To investigate contamination potential, scientists used the BRAND LHS to fill a 384-well plate with deionized water and blue food coloring in an alternating, checkerboard pattern.3 They measured each well’s absorbance on a plate reader to see if the food coloring wells had become contaminated. The researchers observed absorbance readings that indicated no contamination or pipetting errors with either the single-channel or multi-channel liquid end of the LHS.
For additional sample protection while pipetting, scientists can use the BRAND Liquid Handling Station flow, a version of the LHS that actively filters air horizontally through the workstation. Air then exhausts through openings in the front door of the liquid handler. This flow exchanges the ambient air more than four times per minute, quickly creating a particle-free environment.
BRANDTECH Scientific is the US and Canadian division of Brand Group representing BRAND, VACUUBRAND, and VITLAB products.
- M. El-Helaly et al., “Carpal tunnel syndrome among laboratory technicians in relation to personal and ergonomic factors at work,” J Occup Health, 59:513-20, 2017.
- “Automated high-throughput liquid transfer of SDS samples,” BRAND, 2019, https://brandtech.com/wp-content/uploads/Application_note_LHS_EN_0219-1.pdf, accessed March 2, 2023.
- “Contamination-free, automatic pipetting into 384-well microplates with the BRAND Liquid Handling Station,” BRAND, 2021, https://shop.brand.de/media/import/1/27/32406/42485/42559/42675/42693/Technical_Note_LHS_contamination-free_EN_0621.pdf, accessed March 2, 2023.