Improving Microplate Assays
Blog Feb 25, 2015
The recent SLAS conference saw a number of innovative products showcased, including the Thermo Scientific Varioskan LUX, a multimode microplate reader which can be used across a range of applications.
We spoke to Reija-Riitta Harinen, Product Manager, Thermo Fisher Scientific, to learn more about the Varioskan LUX and some of its impressive features.
AM: Can you tell us a little about the Varioskan LUX?
RH: Varioskan LUX is the new multimode microplate reader from Thermo Fisher Scientific, designed specifically for bioscience researchers with a wide variety of needs, skills and assay requirements. It offers a flexible range of measurement technologies for microplate applications, including absorbance, fluorescence, luminescence, AlphaScreen, and time-resolved fluorescence. Optional onboard dispensers can be used for automatic and accurate reagent addition, and support for simultaneous dispensing and measurement enables signal follow-up right from the reaction start. Inbuilt shaker, temperature control, bottom reading and spectral scanning provide additional tools for a variety of applications. In addition, you can equip the instrument with an integrated gas module for atmospheric control of CO2 and O2 for cell-based assays.
AM: How does the Varioskan LUX simplify set-up?
RH: Varioskan LUX has a user-friendly interface - the newly designed 4th generation SkanIt Software raises the usability of a microplate reader to a new level. It’s very intuitive and all the main functions are easily accessible making the measurement setup effortless. The instrument also speeds up measurement setup with the automatic dynamic range selection. That special feature eliminates the need to manually adjust measurement parameters—a tedious process that’s the only option among many microplate readers on the market. Varioskan LUX selects the optimal reading range based on signal intensity in the well, and ensures high sensitivity and wide dynamic range even if you have samples with both very high and low signals in the same plate. It eliminates the need for manual adjustments and test runs to find the optimal settings for each assay. Users can just concentrate on their research and let the instrument make sure the measurements will run smoothly and reliably.
AM: Can you describe some of the smart safety controls of the Varioskan LUX?
RH: Varioskan LUX uses advanced technology to help you avoid mistakes that may waste precious samples, reagents and time, or affect data integrity. The smart safety controls alert you to mistakes before they occur. Plate check prevents you from starting a measurement without a plate and thus prevents accidental dispensing inside the instrument if a plate is not present. Dispenser checks make sure the dispenser is primed prior to starting the run and verify that the dispensing head is correctly placed for each assay. Volume check prevents you from accidentally dispensing too high volumes to a plate. Shaker check controls the maximum shaking speed based on plate format preventing accidental spillage inside the instrument. The built-in safety controls really work in researcher’s best interest.
AM: The Varioskan LUX and SkanIt Software were recently launched at SLAS. What was feedback like from attendees?
RH: Feedback about the new instrument was very positive at the event. Visitors to the booth were able to see the new 4th generation SkanIt software in action, and were very pleased with how easy it is to set up a measurement, analyze results and export data. They also liked the fact that the software gives you an unlimited number of separate logins, so they can use the instrument in a shared lab with many different users and not risk having someone else change their settings.
AM: The Varioskan LUX is a very versatile instrument. Can you describe some of the applications it is well suited to?
RH: A multimode reader this versatile can be used across a broad range of research applications. Some typical examples are DNA, RNA and protein quantitation, cell proliferation, cytotoxicity, Ca2+ flux assays, ion channel assays, ELISA, enzyme activity studies, reporter gene assays, signal transduction, kinase and GPCR assays. The range is so wide it’s nearly impossible to list all the applications Varioskan LUX is ideal for.
Reija-Riitta Harinen was speaking to Anna-Marie MacDonald, Editor for Technology Networks.