Science Pool

Sample Management – Moving Liquids with Sound

The dispensation of compounds in aqueous or DMSO solutions is an integral part of Evotec’s sample management processes. The company has the capability for the automated array of large numbers of samples between a large variety of different containers suitable for both, distribution or storage. Its extensive liquid handling resources cover the widest range of possible volumes.

High-volume systems can dispense and transfer from 1 uL to multi-milliliters to and from vials and plates, while mid-volume systems can dispense from 1 uL to 2 mL using 96, 384 and 1536 plates or racks (SBS – Society for Biomolecular Screening – formats).

As Evotec is striving towards the goal of getting drugs to patients faster, it is constantly seeking to improve the speed of screening cycles and data quality. To enable a step change in drug discovery research and development and to obtain results faster and even more accurately with very small sample sizes, Evotec recently invested in the so-called Acoustic Tubes technology in partnership with Brooks, Beckman and Titian. Acoustic sampling has revolutionised liquid handling and Evotec is using two different systems for acoustically dispensing volumes over 1 uL, or between 2.5 nl and 1 µl.

The technology is using ultrasonic acoustic energy, where energy focused just below the meniscus of a liquid sample ejects small droplets of liquid, enabling very small volumes to be transferred from source wells and precisely positioned onto a destination surface suspended above the ejection point. As a result, scientists can do more with less, handling multiple workflows and generating faster results without the restrictions of traditional tip-based liquid handling.

Moreover, this acoustic technology is combined with newly designed caps, a new de-capping and recapping technology hence creating the ability to store and access compounds long-term directly from the same tubes.

To evaluate the effects of acoustic labware use for long and short-term storage as well as the impact of freeze/thaw cycles and acoustic dispensing on compound integrity, Evotec has completed rigorous testing of the technology before adopting it.

The technology has a number of benefits. Most importantly, it speeds up screening cycles and improves the capacity for cherry-picking plate creation. Besides minimising compound consumption, it also works without disposable tips. This reduces waste, operating costs and eliminates the risk of cross-contamination between compounds. Moreover, its precision and speed leads to unsurpassed accuracy and repeatability of results, while maintaining sample integrity and viability during the transfer. All in all, it saves time, cost and resources, provides for highest possible precision, and increases the flexibility in transferring liquids at different positions and volumes.

Adoption of acoustic sampling technologies increases the flexibility of the compound library at Evotec and its partners and speeds up the throughput for assay-ready plate preparation while reducing the consumption of compounds. Evotec is offering direct access to this technology to its customers on demand.