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Reducing Protocol Time for 96-well PCR Assays

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The virus and prion validation group at Octapharma GmbH (Frankfurt, Germany) reports how implementing an INTEGRA VIAFLO 96 has enabled them to reduce the time taken to undertake PCR assays by greater than 60%.

Since its foundation in 1983, Octapharma (www.octapharma.com) has specialized in the development and manufacture of preparations from human plasma. The virus and prion group has been set-up for small scale production of plasma based drugs from human blood which must be tested to be free of contaminating viruses.

The virology PCR assay developed by Octapharma involves fixing a PCR template on the well surface of 96-well plates and then undertaking a protocol that includes 3 washing steps.

To undertake their PCR assay more efficiently, Octapharma sought a system that enabled reproducible and accurate liquid handling in the 96-well format and was able to completely remove residual liquid as well as avoid well-to-well contamination.

Dr Andreas Volk, a research scientist at Octapharma commented "Initially we looked at liquid handling robots with automatic washing stations to undertake our PCR assay. Not only was this a costly solution but we found wash stations to be prone to cross contamination".

He added "When we tested the VIAFLO 96 it fully met our requirements as it enabled medium throughput liquid handling with all the adjustment options we had been used to with manual pipettes plus a specified tip immersion depth for each pipetting step. With our PCR protocol, which involves ten full liquid transfers per plate, we now only use half the amount of pipette tips as we can use the same tips for liquid handling and again for aspiration in each washing step. Octapharma staff has found using the VIAFLO 96 highly intuitive and overall the time required for our PCR procedures has been reduced to approximately one third of the original time".

The INTEGRA VIAFLO 96 is a handheld 96-channel electronic pipette that has struck a chord with scientists looking for fast, precise and easy simultaneous transfer of 96 samples from microplates without the cost of a fully automated system. The VIAFLO 96 was designed to handle just like a standard handheld pipette - a fact borne out by consistent end user feedback that no special skills or training are required to operate it.

Users immediately benefit from the increased productivity delivered by their VIAFLO 96. Fast replication or reformatting of 96 and 384 well plates and high precision transferring of reagents, compounds and solutions to or from microplates with the VIAFLO 96 is as easy as pipetting with a standard electronic pipette into a single tube.

Four pipetting heads with pipetting volumes up to 12.5 µl, 125 µl, 300 µl or 1250 µl are available for the VIAFLO 96. These pipetting heads are interchangeable within seconds enabling optimal matching of the available volume range to the application performed.

For 384-well pipetting an enhanced version is available with VIAFLO 384. It features 384-channel pipetting heads in the volume range of 12.5 µl and 125 µl and is compatible with 96-channel pipetting heads.