University of Alberta
Precision XS Helps to Create ‘Microplates’ from Paper
Under the leadership of Dr. Ratmir Derda, researchers in the Derda Research Group at the University of Alberta Department of Chemistry and Alberta Glycomics Centre seek novel, portable platforms to aid in chemical, biological, clinical and even specialized 3D cell-based applications through microfluidics and micro-patterned paper. The far-ranging implications of this research are to increase consumable portability and affordability, and simplify processes, especially in developing nations or laboratories with limited resources. SyntArray, founded by Dr. Derda, governs commercialization of these unique microfluidic platforms.
The process to create this microfluidic, micro-patterned paper is straightforward. First, a 96-well pattern is first printed on plain paper, then cut to size and placed on BioTek’s Precision™ XS Microplate Pipetting System. Different pattern configurations suit various disparate applications. The Precision XS is programmed to dispense a sucrose solution onto the patterned areas, effectively blocking the assay area. Then, the Precision XS dispenses Teflon® onto the unblocked areas to form a solvophobic barrier. The Teflon resists liquids better than waxes or other blocking agents, and is non-toxic, non-fluorescent and non-reactive to most chemicals. After the Teflon solution dries, the paper is washed to remove the sucrose and expose the uncoated assay areas, and is ready for use (Figure 1). Different paper grades are used to increase or decrease the fluid flow rate in the assay, and also allow for fluid transfer in applications involving stacked papers, such as susceptibility testing and 3D cell cultures (Figure 2).
Figure 1. Completed microfluidic paper system demonstrating a standard 96-well configuration.
Figure 2. Examples of microfluidic paper applications
Prior to incorporating BioTek’s Precision XS, this process involved a great deal of manual labor. Having used Precision XS as a graduate student, Dr. Derda felt that incorporating the instrument to automate the process would reduce the labor required, and thereby increase productivity. Additionally, he appreciated that Precision XS offered increased quality and accuracy of results at an affordable price.
Dr. Derda notes that his experience with BioTek’s support team during installation and training was excellent, saying, "The technicians doing the installation were some of the best I’ve seen in my life." Currently, three lab members are fully trained in Precision XS's programming and operation. Dr. Derda appreciates the efficiency that Precision XS brings to his process, summarizing, "With BioTek's Precision XS, I feel that I can take my mind off repetitive tasks and focus on the science downstream."
To see the Precision XS at work creating these microfluidic papers, click here.
Teflon is a registered trademark of E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company.
To learn more about The University of Alberta, visit their web site.
Thanks to Dr. Ratmir Derda at The University of Alberta for sharing his BioTek experience.