Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Did you know that there is now a German website available?

Herzlich Willkommen auf der Website von BMG LABTECH !

It is now possible to find out more about the products, applications, news and more in German on BMG LABTECH's website. Visit http://www.bmglabtech.com/deutsch to get the latest information on our microplate readers in German.

The addition of German language pages to the website brings the total number of languages available to 8 - including Japanese, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, Swedish, and of course English.

Monday, October 29, 2012

FAQ: What is the difference between a spectrometer and a monochromator for absorbance measurements?

A spectrometer incorporates a highly efficient optical grating and a solid state array detector that allows the measurement of light intensity throughout the entire UV and visible parts of the spectrum. Similar to a monochromator, but much faster, the spectrometer allows you to capture the whole UV/Vis spectrum (220-1000 nm) of a sample within one second per well – no scanning is needed.

In practical terms, a monochromator only captures one measurement in the UV-Visible spectrum at a particular wavelength or a particular bandwidth, and therefore gives only one value. Whereas a spectrometer captures the entire UV-Visible spectrum in the same amount of time, giving values at every wavelength.

Here is a graphical representation of this – notice all of the information that is lost if a monochromator is used:

Find out more about this technology in an article on Genetic and Engineering News:
Microplate Reader Absorbance Assays - New Tools Bridge Gap between Single and Multiple Sample Absorbance Instruments.
For more information on the UV/Vis absorbance spectrometer technology used in BMG LABTECH's instruments, visit http://www.bmglabtech.com/technology/spectrometer.cfm/. BMG LABTECH instruments that have a spectrometer include: SPECTROstar Nano, Omega Series of readers, and the PHERAstar FS.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Applications Thursday: RT-QuIC, a Faster, Higher Throughput Assay to Measure Prion Diseases

Aphis.usda.gov BSE 5Researchers at Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton, MT with collaborating scientists in Japan have developed a new assay for quantitating prions for neurodegenerative disease research. This new assay, Real-Time Quaking Induced Conversion Assay (RT-QuIC) is a faster, higher throughput, and more sensitive assay for prions than compared to previous test methods using biological tissue samples from infected animals.

BOVINE PRION PROTEIN 1dx0 asym r 500This new prion assay can be measured using BMG LABTECH’s Omega series of microplate readers . With the Omega’s powerful control and  MARS Data Analysis Software, researchers can easily perform this prion assay in several hours to a few days, compared to months with the previous technique in animals. For more information please see their publication: Rapid End-Point Quantitation of Prion Seeding Activity with Sensitivity Comparable to Bioassays in PLoS Pathogen (6(12): e1001217. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1001217).

See BMG LABTECH’s Rocky Mountain Laboratory customer focus for more information on this new prion disease assay.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fun Fact: This week is National Chemistry Week – Help Build Awareness of Chemistry

Twenty-five years ago the American Chemical Society (ACS)  started the National Chemistry Week (NCW) to help raise awareness about Chemistry for young people at the local level. This year the NCW has partnered with the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network to spread the word about the growing field of Nanotechnology. C60 Buckyball croped
To help spread the word or to participate in events, please visit these NCW websites to find out more information:
- Like NCW on Facebook
- Follow NCW on Twitter
- Join NCW on the ACS network
- Find out what is going on near you
- Learn about some hands-on activities for kids

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Did you know that the low volume LVis Plate, which is used for assays like DNA, RNA and protein concentration determination, is now compatible on the PHERAstar FS?

The LVis Plate from BMG LABTECH allows low volume (2 uL) samples to be measured in the absorbance detection mode. The LVis Plate is ideal for determining the concentration of DNA, RNA and proteins without the need to create a standard curve. Fully compatible with the SPECTROstar Nano and the Omega series of microplate readers, the LVis Plate is now fully integrated into the newest version of the PHERAstar FS software (v4.00). Included in the software are easy to use Wizards that walk users through Pathlength Calibration, Cleanliness Check (see Figure), and Blank Measurements for the LVis Plate. Taking low volume measurements in a microplate reader has never been easier.

Monday, October 22, 2012

FAQ: For absorbance assays, why should samples that are >3 O.D. be diluted and measured again?

For absorbance measurements, the optical density (O.D.) is a logarithmic measurement of the percent transmission (%T) and it can be represented by the equation, A = log10 100 / %T. Here is a graphical scale that represents this:

That means a sample with:
  • 1 O.D. allows 10% of light to be transmitted through the sample
  • 2 O.D. allows 1% of light to be transmitted through the sample
  • 3 O.D. allows 0.1% of light to be transmitted through the sample
  • 4 O.D. allows 0.01% of light to be transmitted through the sample

In other words, if a sample has an O.D. greater than 3, this means that only 1 photon of light out of 1,000 will be measured by the detector. Even with the most sophisticated instruments, this small amount of light is very hard to accurately detect above the background noise. Therefore, measurements above 3 O.D. will have greater error and will in turn be less accurate than measurements taken at a lower O.D. Thus it is always recommended to dilute samples that are >3.0 O.D. and then to factor in the dilution factor to the final measurement. This is also shown in the following graph, note how the measurement is no longer linear at high concentrations, which correspond to higher O.D. values.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Focus On Mitochondrial Toxicity – Simple Intracellular assay to test oxygen consumption

Mitochondria are one of the main places in cells were energy is produced via aerobic respiration. Mitochondrial toxicity can occur when drugs or diseases affect the mitochondria and prevent the proper production of energy via oxygen consumption. Therefore a method is needed to test mitochondrial function and toxicity, especially when trying to design potential new drugs.
One way to measure mitochondrial function is to measure oxygen consumption, but traditional methods are limited by low throughput, by using specialized equipment, and by measuring only extracellular oxygen.

The MitoXpress®-Xtra assay from Luxcel Biosciences overcomes these limitations by providing a phosphorescent based method that can measure intracellular oxygen consumption using the time-resolved detection found in many multimode microplate readers. When used with the Atmospheric Control Unit (ACU)  on the FLUOstar Omega, a real-time monitoring system can be created that measures the change in intracellular oxygen in a cell monolayer (see Application Note 223).

Find out more about the MitoXpress®-Xtra assay on our website: http://www.bmglabtech.com/technology/mitoxpress.cfm.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Inside Applications: Assessing pancreatic trypsin activity

  • Trypsin activity as a measure for acute pancreatitis
  • Fluorimetric kinetic assay performed with the POLARstar Omega microplate reader
  • Only 1.5 µL of AMC-derivative trypsin substrate needed

Testing pancreatic trypsin activity in a POLARstar Omega microplate reader from BMG LABTECH is quick and accurate. It allows for a much higher throughput of the fluorescent 96-well microplate format samples and has reduced the expense of costly consumables required for testing pancreatic trypsin in a spectrophotometer.

Read the entire Application Note:
Assessing pancreatic trypsin activity using the POLARstar Omega Microplate Reader

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Fun Fact: The 2012 Nobel Prizes Have Been Chosen

Congratulations to the new Nobel Laureates! Their contributions to our society are an example for us all.

Serge Haroche and David J. Wineland

Nobel prize medal Chemistry
Robert J. Lefkowitz and Brian Kobilka

Sir John B Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka 

Mo Yan 

European Union (EU)

Alvin E. Roth and Lloyd s. Shapley

And in case you did not get enough, check out some even more fun facts about the Nobel Prizes: http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/nobelprize_facts.html

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Did you know that BMG LABTECH microplate readers can withstand strong gravitational forces and still function normally?

Studying the physiological effects of gravity fluctuations on plants, researchers at the University of Tuebingen in Germany use BMG LABTECH’s POLARstar  microplate reader in parabolic flights and in a Hyper-g centrifuge without any adverse effects on the instrument. 

During a parabolic flight, different stages of gravitation are obtained ranging from hypergravity (about 1.8 g) to microgravity (about 10-3 g). In one flight, 31 consecutive parabolas are flown. The gravitational effects of the parabolic flight can be seen in a simulated video (http://www.novespace.fr/fr,popup,parabole.html) and in a real video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lhu198E8z2U). Normal gravity is designated as 1g, and on the accent of the parabola the gravity goes to about 1.8 g (80% higher than normal). Then on the descent when the experiments are performed, the period of microgravity lasts for about 22 seconds.

Investigating the signaling pathway from the stimulus (no gravity) to the response (e.g. activation or deactivation of the expression of certain genes), the level of two important second messengers, Ca2+ and hydrogen peroxide, were monitored. Two cell lines derived from Arabidopsis thaliana expressing either Cameleon (a calcium sensor) or HyPer (an H2O2 sensor) were used, as well as a wild type. The calcium and hydrogen peroxide measurements were performed on a fixed POLARstar OPTIMA  in kinetic mode during the whole time of the parabolic flight.

Results show that the calcium levels increased with microgravity and decreased afterwards, signifying an effect on calcium flux due to changes in gravity. Some of the results can be found online here: http://www.bmglabtech.com/customer-focus/parabolic-flights.cfm. Follow up experiments were recently performed at higher gravity levels with the robust POLARstar microplate reader. Using the Hyper-g centrifuge at ZARM (The Center of Applied Space Technology and Microgravity) in Bremen Germany, the entire unit was centrifuged up to 10g, further demonstrating the instrumentation robustness.
POLARstar OPTIMA outfitted for the no gravity flight

Monday, October 15, 2012

FAQ: What is the difference between Flash and Glow luminescence assays?

Luminescence assays come in many different types. Basically luminescence assays are a chemical or enzymatic reaction that uses a substrate. When the substrate is acted upon by the chemical or enzymatic reaction, light is given off as a by-product. The two main types of luminescence reactions are Flash and Glow. The Flash luminescence reaction occurs quickly, in a matter of seconds or minutes, giving off a very bright signal. Whereas Glow luminescence assays can last for hours but they are not as bright as Flash luminescence assays.

An example of the Flash luminescence assay is DLR® from Promega: http://www.bmglabtech.com/application-notes/luminescence/dlr.cfm

An example of a Glow luminescence assays is the ADP-Glo® Kinase assay from Promega: http://www.bmglabtech.com/application-notes/luminescence/promega-adp-glo-kinase-assay-202.cfm

Friday, October 12, 2012

Focus On G-protein Coupled Receptors (GPCRs)

With Robert Lefkowitz and Brian Kobilka winning the 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work on G-protein Coupled Receptors or GPCRs, here is a repost of part of an older blog that discusses this class of proteins. Congratulations to Drs. Lefkowitz and Kobilka for their achievement.

Beta2Receptor-with-GsG-protein Coupled Receptors or GPCRs are a class of over 1000 different receptors found throughout the human body that have a distinct seven transmembrane domain region. GPCRs are involved in almost every biological process in the body including vision, taste, smell, touch, cardiovascular, respiratory, growth, differentiation, etc. These receptors are associated with a family of intracellular proteins known as heterotrimeric G-proteins. When a specific GPCR is activated, a specific heterotrimeric G-protein is subsequently activated and this leads to a series of specific downstream effects, which can include PIP2 and IP3 production, calcium release, cAMP or cGMP production or inhibition, MAP kinase activation, and beta-arrestin activation, to name a few.
Since GPCRs are involved with many biological processes, there are consequently many diseases where GPCRs have gone awry. Over half of the drugs on the market work via GPCRs. This makes GPCRs one of the most studied family of proteins in research labs throughout the world. Therefore many microplate based GPCR and heterotrimeric G-protein assays have been developed to study these systems on microplate readers. Here is a brief list of GPCR related assays that can be performed on a BMG LABTECH microplate reader:
  • 227 - Quantifying Fluorescent Ligand Binding to GPCRs in Live Cells using the PHERAstar FS
  • 225 - Methyltransferase, Acetyltransferase, Kinases, and GTPases Can All Be Measured with Transcreener® Assays
  • 222 - HTS Instrument Discovers Low Affinity Inhibitors of the IP Signaling Pathway
  • 221 - Monitoring Intracellular cAMP with hMSC cAMP biosensor using the LUMIstar Omega
  • 216 - Monitoring Intracellular Ca2+ Fluxes with Clonetics™ primary sensors
  • 210 - An AlphaScreen® SureFire® Phospho-ERK1/2 assay performed on POLARstar Omega
  • 209 - GPCR Activation is Measured with Cisbio’s cAMP and IP-One HTRF® HTplex™ Cell-based Assay
  • 206 - Cellular Dopamine and Intracellular Calcium Signaling Using the Next Generation Microplate Reader
  • 196 - Using Intrinsic Tryptophan Fluorescence to Measure Heterotrimeric G-Protein Activation
  • 194 - FRET-based screening for potential modulators of the Gαi1 protein/GoLoco interaction
  • 193 - Functional Screening of recombinant CHO-M1 cells using the PHERAstar from BMG LABTECH
  • 177 - HTRF®IP-One Terbium-based assay performed on BMG LABTECH´s PHERAstar Plus
  • 157 - Calcium Detection Upon GPCR Stimulation Using the NOVOstar and Screen Quest
  • 143 - Study of GPCR pharmacology using the DiscoveRx HitHunter
  • 142 - HitHunter™ IP3 Assay for GCPR Screening using the PHERAstar
  • 134 - New HitHunter cAMP XS+ Assay for GPCR Screening Using the PHERAstar
  • 107 - Rapid functional screening at dopamine receptors by measuring intracellular calcium with the NOVOstar fluorescence reader
  • 104 - Intracellular Calcium Assay performed on NOVOstar Microplate Reader

Here is a list of BMG LABTECH application notes  were these can be found.
For more GPCR and other applications, visit our applications center at: http://www.bmglabtech.com/applications/applications.cfm

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Applications Thursday: GPCR Research

Beta-2 adrenergic receptorIn tribute to Dr. Robert Lefkowitz and Dr. Brian Kobilka for winning the 2012 Nobel prize in Chemistry for their research on G-Protein Coupled Receptors, we are highlighting several publications from Dr. Lefkowitz’s laboratory that have cited the use of a BMG LABTECH microplate reader.

Dr. Lefkowitz’s lab has used a BMG LABTECH microplate reader  to measure amongst other things, intracellular calcium flux, cAMP accumulation, and b-arrestin recruitment, which are all downstream effects of GPCRs.
You can find out more about some of these publications here:

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fun Fact: The 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Robert J. Lefkowitz and Brian Kobilka

NobelPRobert J. Lefkowitz from Duke University along with Brian Kobilka from Stanford University were just awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their research and discovery of the adrenergic G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR). After they cloned the beta-adrenergic receptor in the 1980s and showed that it had a similar structure to rhodopsin, a receptor found in the eye, they set the foundation for the later discovery of over 1,000 different GPCRs in the human body. Half of all medications work through GPCRs, acting on receptors such as dopamine, serotonin, opioid, histamine, gustatory, olfactory, and melatonin to name a few.

Some recent publications from Dr. Lefkowitz’s lab have cited the use a BMG LABTECH microplate reader to study GPCRs. Amongst other things, his lab has used the NOVOstar microplate reader in a FRET assay to measure intracellular cAMP, a downstream effect of GPCRs (A unique mechanism of beta-blocker action: Carvedilol stimulates beta-arrestin signaling), as well as an intracellular calcium (Ca2+) flux assay, which also measures a downstream effect of GPCRs (Arresting a Transient Receptor Potential (TRP) Channel. Beta-Arrestin Mediates Ubiquitination and Functional Down Regulation of TRPV4 ).

Thank you and congratulations to Drs. Lefkowitz and Kobilka for their ground breaking research into GPCRs.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Did you know that there is a new PHERAstar Software update for the PHERAstar Plus and for the PHERAstar FS?

Last week BMG LABTECH released its newest upgrade to the PHERAstar series of microplate readers. Please visit our Software Updates page to see all of the newest software versions.
Some of the newest features include:
  • New Microsoft® Look and Feel
  • Programmable application buttons to run your favorite test runs
  • LVis Plate compatibility for low volume absorbance measurements like DNA, RNA or Protein
  • Confidence Intervals,
  • 5-Parameter fit
  • Hyperbola fit
Please contact your local BMG LABTECH representative to see how you can upgrade your PHERAstar, PHERAstar Plus or PHERAstar FS, as well as any other BMG LABTECH microplate reader. Or send an email to support@bmglabtech.com and we will get back to you immediately.

Your Control Software and your MARS Data Analysis version(s) are displayed on the opening pages when the software is started.  Or you can go to the “About PHERAstar” that is under the Help dropdown menu or under the Home button in the top left corner. The pop-up window will look like this:

Monday, October 8, 2012

FAQ: Does the PHERAstar FS require separate filter sets for top and bottom reading?

No, only one filter set is needed for both top and bottom reading when using the PHERAstar FS. In addition, features such as Dual Emission Detection , 0.1 mm Z-axis focus, and 3456-well microplate capacity are also maintained when performing a bottom read.

The PHERAstar FS uses a proprietary optical system that incorporates an all-in-one design with its Optic Modules. The Optic Module is recognized by the PHERAstar FS through a barcode labeling. If users want to switch between top and bottom reading, it is a simple click of a button in the software. No filters, dichroic mirrors, or beam splitters need to be changed manually. In addition, the ability of the PHERAstar FS to retains its Dual Emission detection when reading from the bottom is vital in assays like GeneBLAzer® and Tango LiveBLAzer®.

To order filters or Optic Modules, visit: http://www.bmglabtech.com/products/filters/

GeneBLAzer and Tango LiveBLAzer are registered trademarks of Invitrogen Corp.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Focus On: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast Cancer Awareness (263497131)October has been designated as the month to raise awareness about breast cancer throughout the world. Being one of the most common occurring cancers, breast cancer affects millions of people every year. But the good news is that with new and emerging research in the last ten years, it has now become one of the most curable cancers when caught early enough. This improvement in care and in life expectancy has been greatly aided by awareness organizations such as the US National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the UK Breast Cancer Care. In addition, the Pink Ribbon has become synonymous with breast cancer awareness as well as the annual Susan G. Komen 5K Races to help raise money.
Please visit these other organizations and websites to see how you can help to raise awareness about breast cancer:

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Applications Thursday: Alternative Assay to the Cell Cytotoxicity Chromium Release Radioactive Assay

A popular assay in biological laboratories is the radioactive chromium IV release assay that measures cell cytotoxicity in a mixed population of cells. One of the most popular uses of this assay is to measure cell-death that is mediated by other cells such as Macrophages, Cytotoxic T Cells (CTLs), or Natural Killer (NK) cells. But one of the major drawbacks of the chromium release assay is that it uses radioactive 51Cr material, which is dangerous and requires costly clean up.

An alternative to this radioactive chromium assay is a safer, time-resolved fluorescence assay that uses the lanthanide europium (Eu3+). Briefly cells are preloaded with a fluorescence enhancing ligand, BATDA, which penetrates the cell membrane. BATDA is quickly hydrolyzed within the cell to form the hydrophobic ligand TDA. When the cell membrane is lysed upon cell-mediated cytotoxicity, the released TDA binds to free Eu3+. This forms a Eu-TDA chelate that can then be measured using time-resolved fluorescence.

For more information on how to perform this assay using the PHERAstar microplate reader, please see Application Note 192: A DELFIA® time-resolved fluorescence cell-mediated cytotoxicity assay performed on the PHERAstar.

Delfia is a registered trafemark of Perkin Elmer Inc.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Did you know that there is a reader comparison page where you can easily compare the different BMG LABTECH microplate readers?

Are you trying to decide which BMG LABTECH microplate reader is perfect for your laboratory? Not sure if you need the PHERAstar FS multimode HTS reader or if the POLARstar Omega multimode life science reader will work for all of your assay needs?

To help you compare the different microplate readers from BMG LABTECH, we have created a simple to use Microplate Reader Comparison page. On this page, just click on the microplate readers you would like to compare and hit GO. The readers will be arranged in columns for simple comparison. Of course if you need for further information or would like to set up an instrument demonstration, please contact your local BMG LABTECH representative.

Monday, October 1, 2012

FAQ: Where can I find the latest application notes, posters and scientific papers that use a BMG LABTECH microplate reader?

A perfectly engineered microplate reader is only part of the solution. Showing the applications that the plate reader can perform is the additional piece of the puzzle. BMG LABTECH has a broad range of application support material found in its Application Center on our website. The information is divided into Application Notes, Scientific Posters, and Scientific Papers. Or you can search for your application of choice in our extensive database including over 3300 application notes, posters and references here: http://www.bmglabtech.com/applications/applicationsearch.cfm.