Pray for a Preddator
Redd&Whyte worked with pharma to develop a line of small, versatile dispensers for the research community, which co-founders Martyn Hanlon and Roger Poole, M.D., were happily showing off at ELA. “We knew industry needed this equipment,” said commercial director Hanlon.
“The Preddators can dispense any fluid from DMSO to oil, in any dispense pattern,” he added, with the ability to mete out detergents and surfactants with virtually no foaming. “They will even do grease and cells.” Hanlon boasted that the instruments can fill 300 1,536-well plates with the worst, stickiest protein before the tips begin to clog.
These modular, upgradable instruments come preloaded with more than 100 programs in their flash memory, and can also be controlled by a PC or integrated into an automated platform, enabling them to fill any plate up to 3,456 wells, as well as dispense to custom-patterned plates and surfaces.
Preddator’s open-architecture software makes it useful for applications as diverse as PCR, multispotting arrays, protein crystallography, and dispensing gels. Solenoid valves dispense volumes from 20 nL to 200 µL. It comes in one- and four-channel versions, with the four-channel Preddator S4 capable of filling a 384-well plate with 1 µL in 15 seconds, and a 1,536-well plate in a minute, according to the firm.
Among the products Thermo Fisher Scientific had on display was the diminutive (and “green”) Piko thermal cycler, available in two block configurations. The 24-well block can handle standard low profile single tubes, 8-tube strips, and 24-well Piko PCR plates, while the 96-well block is designed to use 96-well Piko plates.
Piko plate wells are ¼ the size of conventional PCR microplate wells. This, combined with the plastics’ faster heat transfer, allows the Piko thermal cycler to complete 30 PCR cycles in just 15 minutes, said Hilkka Sarapisto, commercial product manager for sample preparation and analysis, Europe and emerging markets. And this, the firm claims, results in a huge savings in energy cost of operation, reagent usage, and plastics consumption.
Though Sarapisto pointed out that the machine is not designed for high-throughput screening, the Piko plates utilize industry standards for well spacing and sample capacity, making them compatible with a variety of multichannel pipettors, reagent dispensers, and liquid-handling systems.
Also touted was Thermo’s Arktik thermal cycler, with interchangeable blocks allowing it to be transformed between a 96-well and a 386-well instrument. It can also be operated as two independent 48-well instruments, simultaneously utilizing different programs, Sarapisto noted.