Why dead volume matters – and the Clear Advantage™ of innovative reagent reservoirs

Choosing between productivity and cost

Next generation sequencing (NGS) is an excellent example of the need to balance expense against productivity, and the high cost of NGS reagents is a pain point for virtually every lab working in this field. There has been a steady decrease in the cost of sequencing equipment in recent years, opening up this technique to an ever-growing number of labs and applications. However, the cost of library preparation has remained high, mainly due to the need for numerous expensive enzymes and reaction mixes to transform DNA or RNA to individual libraries ready for sequencing. In addition, the time required to precisely perform all of the necessary low volume pipetting steps adds to the cost of analysis.

Multichannel electronic pipettes obviously have the potential to significantly reduce the time required for library preparation in microplates or tube racks, but there’s a catch. To fully exploit the benefits of these pipettes, you need to use reagent reservoirs. And, as any experienced bench scientist will tell you, traditional reagent reservoirs can be very wasteful, due to their high dead volumes. This isn’t a problem with low cost reagents – such as buffers or solvents – but is a serious issue for expensive PCR master mixes, as they simply cost too much to waste hundreds of microliters at a time. So you’re back to filling every well or tube individually with a single channel pipette!

Why choose? Have both!

We agree productivity and cost are equally important – so we challenged our engineers to find a solution! Of course, being INTEGRA engineers, they didn’t just develop a reagent reservoir with a very low dead volume, they made one that makes pipetting easier and lowers your lab’s reagent reservoir costs at the same time. First launched in 2008, our Clear Advantage multichannel reagent reservoirs save money and space by using disposable inserts that fit into reusable bases. Offered in 10, 25 and 100 ml sizes, these reservoirs are designed to nest inside each other, reducing inventory space requirements, shipping costs and plastic waste. Made of crystal clear, 100 % virgin polystyrene or polypropylene, each insert fits into a reusable base with clearly visible volume graduation markings. Every insert also has a molded pour back spout, allowing you to return excess fluid to a source container if your protocol permits.

This cost- and space-saving design has now been combined with our innovative SureFlo™ technology to help minimize dead volumes. SureFlo works on a simple but powerful principle. A series of tiny channels enables your pipette tips to sit on the bottom of the reservoir, without sealing or creating a vacuum. This ensures that reagents flow smoothly, preventing liquid ‘popping’ into tips, filters or pipettes – an issue that can lead to cross-contamination, inaccurate results and increased pipette maintenance. Each reservoir also has our specially formulated inert, hydrophilic treatment that prevents liquid from pooling, resulting in the lowest dead volumes on the market – with all reservoirs offering dead volumes of less than 50 μl!

Looking to save even more? Our latest divided reagent reservoir has side-by-side 5 and 10 ml volume compartments, and can be combined with the VOYAGER adjustable tip spacing electronic pipette to enable straightforward and efficient dispensing into 96 or 384 well plates. Incredibly, this reservoir has a dead volume of less than 10 µl on the 5 ml side – perfect for PCR master mixes and other costly reagents where every microliter counts!  

Time is money

Looking beyond the cost of the reagents, the next consideration for any lab manager or supervisor should be the amount of time it takes to manually prepare NGS libraries – even with a multichannel pipette. Laboratory automation is an obvious solution to this issue, helping to significantly reduce hands-on time, as well as minimizing the risk of human errors that could lead to erroneous results and/or (expensive) repetition of experiments. The problem is that not all labs have the budget, space or expertise for liquid handling robots. Fortunately, we developed the ASSIST PLUS pipetting robot for just this situation.

The ASSIST PLUS is simple and cost-effective benchtop system that can be combined with any VOYAGER or VIAFLO multichannel electronic pipette to offer walkaway automation of microplate pipetting. The recently launched dual reservoir adapter makes this system ideal for assays that required sequential addition of several low volume reagent mixes. This adapter holds two 10 ml, 25 ml or divided reagent reservoirs side by side in an aluminum frame, and can be pre-chilled to keep reagents cool during processing.

Dual reservoir adapter with 2 divided reagent reservoirs

Time to make the switch and save

If your lab still sees a single channel pipette as the only tool to avoid sample and reagent loss, or you’re wasting expensive reagents by using reservoirs with high dead volumes, then you need to consider a switch to Clear Advantage reagent reservoirs – it’ll save you time and money. And if you really want to increase staff satisfaction and boost your lab’s productivity, then choose cost-effective automated liquid handling with the ASSIST PLUS pipetting robot.

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