Software Holds It All Together
Recently, a group from the University of Michigan developed a new, secure, web-based open-source application called MScreen, that is designed to organize and run HTS and compound management. Described in an application note in this month’s issue of the Journal of Biomolecular Screening, MScreen is free to academic and nonprofit institutions, and available by license for industry.
Though its main focus is HTS, it also facilitates compound management, governing standard tasks such as debiting volumes while loading screening plates, for example. But MScreen can also accomplish other jobs, such as making and handling mixture plates for screening multiple compounds simultaneously. It shows you views of each well and the compounds contained within the well, with thumbnails of each compound’s structure, to which is linked the complete information on the individual compounds.
An MScreen author Richard Neubig, M.D., Ph.D., professor of pharmacology, and co-director of the Center for Chemical Genomics at the University of Michigan, says that MScreen also has a unique ability to handle compounds and extracts.
“[This is useful] if you have an unknown mixture,” said Dr. Neubig. “MScreen has a large collection of natural extracts. We can also link those to the constituents [of your mixture] once you’ve identified what the chemical constituents are. So we’ve got substances and compounds, and you can link a compound well, or a compound structure, to a particular substance so that you can see how those fit.”
Mscreen also helps you keep track of chemicals’ sources, using different sets of daughter plates made with different concentrations, or made at different times.
“If you order in a new stock of something, we can keep good track of which lot it was, and we also can keep track of the different daughter plates,” said Dr. Neubig. “We make sure that when we do a screen, we know exactly which daughter plate the compound came from. So if we see discrepancies between two assays on a single compound, we can track those easily to make sure there wasn’t a difference in the two daughter plates that were used.”
MScreen also features a specially designed infrastructure for managing nucleic acid reagents. “We have a very specific structure set up for the siRNAs, where we have links to sequences of the siRNAs in the collection, and links to the genes that are targeted by the siRNAs,” continued Dr. Neubig.
This framework within MScreen is also easily adaptable to work for shRNAs or micro RNAs as well, he added.