Paige Vinson directs a high-throughput screening facility that serves scientists in multiple disciplines. Cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, metabolism, kidney function—all these and more are subjects currently under investigation.
“It is very gratifying to work with the many investigators here at the university who are doing exciting, groundbreaking research, whether it is basic pharmacological probe development or a full drug discovery program,” says Dr. Vinson.
She notes, for example, that one of the facility’s primary users is currently studying a receptor that has been linked to obesity—and has discovered modulators that can increase or decrease a person’s metabolism.
Another is focusing on an ion channel relevant to malaria, diabetes, and kidney disease.
“In many cases, our university’s researchers have discovered small molecules that regulate targets relevant to human health,” Vinson says. “As a shared resource, we help enable this work with technology that allows both an increase in scale and capability.”
Fast, Reliable, Easy To Use
One of her facility’s key tools, which many users rely on heavily, is the Agilent Bravo Automated Liquid Handling Platform.
“We provide an array of services to customers at our institution. These services include small molecule screening, siRNA screening, compound management, assay development, and walk- up instrumentation use,” she says. “The users of our facility face a challenge upon scaling their assay to 96- and 384-well formats. A critical component of successfully executing these types of experiments is reliable liquid handling. This is also true during screening where many plates are run under the same condition and reproducibility is key.”
Vinson also points out that the Bravo platform enables the facility to provide liquid handling under the kind of sterile conditions needed for siRNA screening as well as some cell-based assays. The platform also meets the facility’s need to perform serial diluting of multiple compounds across a plate in a reliable and reproducible manner, she says.
Bottlenecks Are Elsewhere
One of the real strengths of the Bravo platform, Vinson says, is that it can be used for a variety of applications. Her lab uses three of them, as follows:
One is part of an integrated system used for compound addition to assay plates—either cell- based or biochemical assays. It is also used in walk-up mode for compound additions, reagent additions, and serial dilutions.
Another (also part of an integrated system) is used for reformatting tube racks into well plates and for plate replication. Like the first system, this one is also used in walk-up mode.
The third is used in a tissue culture hood for use with applications needing sterile conditions such as compound additions offline with long-term incubation of cells. It is also used a great deal for siRNA applications.
“Usually throughput is not an issue for us. The bottlenecks are elsewhere,” Vinson says. “With that said, for our screens we will run about 20 plates per day and the Bravo can easily manage that. For plate replication or reformatting, there is no comparison to manual as the Bravo is much faster.”
In fact, she points out, it was the Bravo Automated Liquid Handling Platform that made it possible for her facility to reformat 100,000 compounds from tubes into well plates and then replicate the plates six times. All of this was done (quickly and reliably) to create a compound library—an invaluable resource for university scientists seeking the right substance to modulate a target of interest in their research.
To learn more about the Agilent Bravo Platform and how other researchers use it, visit www.agilent.com/lifesciences/Bravo
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© Agilent Technologies, Inc. 2014, Published in USA, October 15, 2014, 5991-5252EN