Researchers in the field of proteomics and metabolomics are faced with ever-increasing workloads and demands for faster and consistently accurate turnaround times. Even for the most experienced researcher juggling the various day-to-day lab tasks, in addition to manually preparing and processing samples with the Solid Phase Extraction (SPE) method, can create workflow challenges. SPE normally involves several repetitive steps that are inherent to proper sample processing, such as sample preparation and randomization, loading, washing, and elution. These tedious steps combined with other competing lab priorities can create workflow and bottleneck issues.
The SPE technique typically uses a syringe cartridge that can create processing challenges for small sample sizes of 1ml or less, presenting yet another limitation. Only a few cartridges can be processed at the same time due to their size, resulting in an inefficient and labor-intensive process. Using filtration plates that are specifically designed for protein and peptide SPE, such as the Thermo’s SOLAμ™ or the Phenomenex’s Novum ™ plates, can address processing limitations for smaller sample sizes. These plates are designed to yield highly reproducible, cleaner, and more robust sample extractions for researchers, specifically for very low sample and solvent volumes. However, manual execution is still required for SPE and efficiency is still a concern.
In comes Aurora Biomed’s VERSA 1100 SPE, an intuitively designed, fully automated SPE solution that addresses efficiency and productivity issues, without compromising quality or accuracy for low to medium throughput of samples up to 100ml. The VERSA 1100 automatically prepares filtration plates for researchers from start to finish, freeing up much-needed time to work on other equally important lab tasks.
Institutions such as John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital (JHACH) have been using the VERSA 1100 SPE combined with Novum SLE plates for their metabolomics research. With the automation it offers, patient samples are seamlessly prepared for GC/MS analysis every month in a shorter period of time, and with less manual involvement. Before using the VERSA 1100 the lab’s entire sample process was done manually, averaging a total of 6 hours to complete the entire workflow. Researchers manually performed: 1) Normalization of samples and extraction of equal volumes from each tube, 2) Randomization of sample layout and subsequent loading of tubes into corresponding spots, 3) Washing, elution, and standardization steps using the filter plate and pressure device, and 4) Transferring of collection plate for analysis. With the VERSA 1100, the entire workflow is automated and completed within 3-4 hours and up to 96 samples can be processed at the same time.
Notably, this automation not only significantly frees up time that can be used to focus on other tasks, but it also minimizes human error commonly observed during the sample randomization step. Lab members can divert more of their time towards data analysis, grant writing, manuscript preparation, lab equipment upkeep, and other essential operational tasks. “We are saving time and efforts with the VERSA 1100 which we can spend on other tasks such as developing new assays. “says Dr. Roux from JHACH.
Simply put, through the automated sample processing solution that the VERSA 1100 SPE provides, researchers in the field of proteomics and metabolomics will be able to maximize throughput, reduce the risk of analyte loss, minimize human error, and produce accurate, high-quality results with minimal effort.