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Assay Plate Creation

Estonian Genome Center

Managing Large Sample Libraries

Managing a large sample library can be challenging. Hamilton Storage has the capability to fully manage sample libraries from tens of thousands to millions of individually stored samples by integrating an automated storage system to an automated liquid handling workstation.

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The Application: Retrieve samples from storage and process into specified volumes to fulfill sample requests.

Manual Workflow:
  • Retrieve samples from freezer
  • Select samples from racks and thaw
  • Mix sample to dissolve any precipitant and then quickly centrifuge to collect the sample to the bottom of the well (optional steps)
  • Identify and decap sample tubes
  • Pipette specified volume and record the volume transferred from the tube
  • Cap sample tubes
  • Return tubes to freezer
  • Seal target plate and store for downstream assay processing

Challenges with the Manual Workflow:

  • Extremely labor intensive workflow when processing thousands of sample requests per day
  • Temperature instability during retrieval process
  • Sample contamination from mixed-up tube caps
  • Potential to mix up sample during pipetting

Hamilton’s Solution:

Hamilton integrates its ASM automated storage system to a DeCapper and Microlab STAR. To plate a sample, the scientist would submit a list and the integrated system would process the sample automatically. First, the scientist would make a request for specific samples to be located in a specific order on the tube racks. The ASM would pick the samples, thaw the samples in a controlled environment, and then send the rack of tubes out of the system via a hand-off arm. The STAR outfitted with an iSWAP plate gripper would move the rack of tubes to the DeCapper unit, which will take the samples and systematically open the screw cap tubes with sensors that provide feedback to ensure they are correctly opened and caps are stored without the chance of contamination.  Once the tubes are decapped, the Microlab STAR can run numerous automated bench top assays automatically, ultimately plating to a variety of 48-, 96-, 384-, or 1536-well plates.

The user specifies the order of samples needed in the final assay plate, and the ASM assembles the requested samples. Or the user can select to have the ASM pick the samples in an efficient order, to improve throughput and the rate of delivery. Whichever the scientist chooses, the built-in 1-D and 2-D barcode readers will always track the samples, producing map file reports for the scientist and the STAR liquid handling platform.

Once the source tube rack is processed, those samples are moved back to the Hamilton DeCapper, where the cap is restored and the rack of capped tubes is returned to the ASM. During this process, the ASM system will create a logged event for the return of the sample. Additional report entries can also be collected and reported, such as freeze thaw cycle counts, volume removed, and reports on the contents of the new plates.

    • ASM (1 ASM Server and 1 ASM Store)
    • 3 ft hand-off arm
    • Microlab STAR with 8 independent channels, iSWAP, tip and plate nests
    • Hamilton DeCapper
    • Hamilton Shaker
      • Fully automated process of sample delivery
      • Automated cherry-picking at -20°C guarantees that only the requested samples will be thawed instead of thawing all the samples contained in the plate
      • Reduces the number of freeze-thaw cycles the samples go through
      • Minimizes the time spent at room temperature
      • Reduces the amount of hands-on work
      • Eliminate mix up of samples and risk of cross-contamination
      • Expand sample library easily by adding modular ASM Stores