A Compelling Look at Liquid Handling for Microplate Assays

Microplate assays play a crucial role in scientific research and diagnostics. By allowing researchers to perform high-throughput screenings efficiently, the method becomes essential for large-scale experiments, such as drug discovery, where thousands of compounds need to be tested rapidly.

In many microplate-based assays, there is a crucial wash step that plays a significant role in sample preparation and data accuracy.

During the wash step, the fluid (such as reagents, buffers, or unwanted substances) in the microplate well needs to be removed. This process is called aspiration. After aspiration, the microplate well is emptied of the original fluid. Now, it’s time to add a replacement fluid (e.g., a fresh buffer, a specific reagent, or a washing solution). The process of adding the replacement fluid is called dispensing.

The aspiration and dispense steps are critical for maintaining the integrity of microplate-based assays, ensuring accurate results, and optimising workflow efficiency. These labour-intensive procedures can be efficiently automated using instruments that can both wash and dispense reagents on a single hardware platform.

Complete removal or replacement of the original fluid often requires multiple iterations or cycles of aspiration and dispense. After the final aspiration of a wash protocol is completed, often the next step in the assay protocol is the addition of a specific reagent

For example, ELISA reactions are antibody-based reactions that use a series of binding reactions to quantify specific analytes. With a typical ELISA protocol, repeated cycles of microplate washing, reagent addition, and incubation are executed to add specific reagents and to remove unbound material before data collection. When performed manually, this process requires a technician to manage the timing and be available to move plates between the washer and multiple dispensers.


What is needed is the utility of an instrument with both washing and dispensing capabilities within the context of widely used applications.


The Agilent BioTek 406 FX is a modular system and is fully programmable from either its built-in touch screen or using Agilent BioTek Liquid Handling Control (LHC) software on an attached PC. The 406 FX is an automated microplate processor that can perform microplate washing steps in 96-, 384-, and 1536-well microplates. In addition to standard wash routines, the 406 FX has built-in cell-washing capabilities. An internal buffer-switching valve allows for the selection of up to four different wash buffers without changing bottles. A built-in sonicator provides the capability for automated cleaning maintenance of the dispense manifold.

Agilent BioTek 406 FX Washer Dispenser


There are compelling reasons for wanting to make use of a single instrument for these functions. Having both functions in one instrument reduces the need for manual intervention and minimises the time spent switching between different devices. This can improve workflow which then also improves efficiency. A single instrument saves space and is often more cost-effective than buying separate washers and dispensers. Finally, integrated liquid handlers ensure consistent aspiration and dispensing techniques across all wells. This consistency improves data quality and reduces variability.

The advantages of an instrument like Agilent BioTek 406 FX create opportunities for labs to not only improve their operations, it also allow them to offer high-quality analysis output, greater accuracy, and cost-effectiveness. Chemetrix is able to work with your lab to determine the best solution for your needs and ensure that your liquid handling requirements are fulfilled. Speak to one of our consultants today.


Unlocking the Potential of Automated Imaging Tools in Cell Culture and Assay Development

In the dynamic landscape of cell biology research, advancements in technology continually reshape our understanding of cellular processes and pave the way for innovative discoveries. Automated imaging tools stand at the forefront of this revolution, offering researchers valuable insights into improving routine cell culturing techniques and enhancing the effectiveness and reproducibility of downstream cell-based assays.

Automated imaging tools help researchers learn more about how to make cell culturing better and how to improve the accuracy and consistency of cell-based tests. Unlike traditional manual methods, which are prone to subjectivity and variability, automated imaging offers an objective, quantitative analysis of cellular parameters in real time.

This level of precision and consistency is essential for optimising cell culture conditions, evaluating the efficacy of experimental treatments, and ensuring the reproducibility of results across experiments. Additionally, high-content imaging capabilities enable researchers to multiplex their analyses, simultaneously probing multiple cellular features within the same sample. This holistic approach not only enhances the efficiency of assay development but also allows for a more comprehensive assessment of cellular responses to various stimuli.

Overall, automated imaging tools empower researchers to unravel the complexities of cellular processes with unprecedented accuracy and throughput, driving innovation and accelerating discoveries in cell biology.


Enhancing Cell Culturing Techniques with Automated Imaging

Cell culture lies at the heart of many biological studies, serving as a foundational technique for a myriad of applications, from basic research to drug discovery. However, traditional methods of assessing cell health and behaviour often rely on subjective observations and manual interventions, leading to variability and inefficiencies. Enter BioTek’s LionHeart FX, which can revolutionise cell culture workflows by providing real-time, quantitative data on cell morphology, viability, and proliferation. BioTek Lionheart FX allows you to capture, process, analyse, annotate images, and produce videos with ease. By automating image acquisition and analysis, researchers can gain deeper insights into cellular dynamics, optimise culture conditions, and ensure reproducibility across experiments.

Agilent BioTek Lionheart FX Automated Microscope


Empowering Assay Development

The effectiveness of cell-based assays hinges on the accuracy and reliability of the data obtained. BioTek’s Cytation emerges as a game-changer, offering high-content imaging capabilities that enable multiplexed analysis of cellular parameters in a single experiment. Digital microscopy and multimode detection deliver both phenotypic data and quantitative data from one instrument, maximising laboratory productivity. With its automated imaging and image analysis features, Cytation streamlines assay development accelerates screening processes and enhances the robustness of downstream assays, ultimately driving efficiency and productivity in research endeavours.

Agilent BioTek Cytation C10 Confocal Imaging Reader


Optimising Workflow Efficiency with Integrated Liquid Handling

Liquid handling is a critical aspect of cell culture and assay development, where precision and accuracy are paramount. Manual pipetting procedures not only pose a risk of human error but also limit throughput and scalability. In this regard, BioTek’s MultiFlo FX delivers unparalleled flexibility and efficiency by integrating automated liquid handling with imaging capabilities. Whether dispensing media, performing cell-based assays, or conducting plate washing steps, MultiFlo FX streamlines workflows, minimises hands-on time, and ensures consistent results, empowering researchers to focus on data analysis and interpretation.

Agilent BioTek MultiFlo FX Multimode Dispenser


Embracing the Future of Cell Biology with BioTek

In the rapidly evolving field of cell biology, leveraging state-of-the-art technology is essential for driving innovation and pushing the boundaries of scientific discovery.


BioTek’s Cell Analysis instruments represent a beacon of innovation, offering researchers a comprehensive suite of tools to elevate their research to new heights.


Rapid Accurate Detection of Mitochondrial Toxicity

In cell analysis, real-time cell measurements provide a clear window into the critical functions driving cell signalling, proliferation, activation, toxicity and biosynthesis.

In this webinar, Dr. George Rogers discusses Agilent Seahorse technology and workflow advancements that enable simplified assessment of mitochondrial toxicity with high sensitivity and specificity. Points of discussion include the Mito Tox Index (MTI), a standardised parameter reflecting both the magnitude and mode of mitochondrial toxicity, as well as the applications of the Agilent Seahorse XF Mito Tox Assay solution, including examples with HepG2 cells and primary hepatocytes.



George W. Rogers, Ph.D.
Research Scientist, Expert Bioassay Solutions, Cell Analysis Division
Agilent Technologies, Inc.


Register and watch on demand >