As of April 8, 2021, approximately 154,000,000 people worldwide have been fully vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This represents 2 percent of the world’s population, leaving 49 out of every 50 people still susceptible to the virus and its potentially deadly illness.Consequently, testing for the coronavirus and using all public safety protocols like social distancing remain critical to limiting the number of lives destroyed by this virus.
As discussed in the first part of this blog on COVID-19 testing, liquid handling systems are critical for rapid, reliable, and widespread testing for the coronavirus.
Read on to discover how the handling of microplates and test tubes defines the best labs for SARS-CoV-2 testing.
What is a Liquid Handling System?
Simply put, a liquid handling system is a modern, automated robot-like machine that makes working with liquid specimens easier, faster, and more reliable than older techniques done by hand. Studies have proven that using an automated liquid handling system provides extremely high accuracy and precision, resulting in more sensitivity and precision in an environment with rapid test results, limited technician contact with potentially hazardous biological samples, and minimum effective sample size in the lower microliter range.
Other benefits include the ability to use microplates that can hold patient samples from up to 96 different patients. Using a pipetting robot, microplate handler, and microplate reader allows for nearly technician-free sample processing. As more laboratories elect to use automation, diagnostic testing and experimental procedures can be carried out in record numbers in times substantially shorter than when done by hand.
Microplate readers are sophisticated devices that can detect biological, chemical, or physical changes in each tiny well of a microplate. Many of these devices can even be used to detect changes in living cells and cellular activity in real-time. Gene expression can be identified and timed to a particular mitotic or meiotic cellular phase.
Microplate readers can be used as spectrophotometers to measure absorbance, fluorescence, luminescence, and other detection methods. Applications that have been developed include:
- Protein and cell growth assays
- Protein: protein interactions
- Reporter assays
- Nucleic acid quantitation
- Molecular interactions
- Enzyme activity
- Cell toxicity, proliferation, and viability
- ATP quantification
- High throughput screening of compounds and targets in drug discovery
- Bead-Based Epitope Assay
- And many more.
Microplate readers have revolutionized the laboratory environment.
Pipetting robots minimize pipetting and handling errors when using hand pipettes or even manual pipetting systems, allowing for multiple samples to be processed at once.
The accuracy of these manual pipette systems, whether solo or in groups, is far below that of any robotic system, increasing experimental variability and costly mistakes.
A pipetting robot eliminates the problem of volume variability. It leads to heretofore unknown degrees of precision when transferring smaller volumes, and eliminates the possibility of transposing samples. Doing this by hand leads to a variety of pipetting mistakes, including:
- Failure to pre-wet pipette tip
- Tip touch
- Poor technique
- Distractions causing errors
- Transposing samples into the wrong wells
Every one of these common human errors is eliminated by the use of a pipetting robot. It becomes easy to see how a pipetting robot is necessary for any biological, chemical, or pharmaceutical laboratory looking to perform top-quality research with the shortest turnaround times.
Liquid Handling Systems: A Value Proposition
While the initial costs concern some scientists when thinking about Lab Automation
and liquid handling systems, the reality is that long-term costs have repeatedly been shown to be significantly higher when compared to labs with little to no automation.
Combining the lower costs with the need for less staff involvement, running extended hours, substantially more consistent results, and increased safety to lab technicians, it is easy to understand why any laboratory is not automating with robotics such as microplate readers and pipetting robots will soon become obsolete.
Those labs performing SARS-CoV-2 testing using an automated liquid handling system are able to give results to many more people in a much shorter time, which ultimately saves lives.
Contact Hudson Robotics today to request a consultation or learn more about our host of products to assist you with a Liquid Handling System for COVID-19 testing or a host of other uses and discover how we can help you with multiple automation options to meet all of your laboratory needs.