Monthly Archives: February 2017

  1. Wound Healing Using 384 Well Microplates


           Wound healing involves cell migration and invasion which are processes that offer rich targets for intervention in key physiologic and pathologic pathways. With the advent of high-throughput and high content imaging systems, there has been a movement towards the use of physiologically relevant, phenotypic cell-based assays earlier in the testing paradigm. This allows more effective identification of lead compounds and recognition of undesirable effects sooner in the drug discovery screening process. At V&P Scientific, we have created tools for mechanically scratching the cell substrate with a 384 pin array.  Scientists can create characteristically sized wounds in all wells of a 384 well plate.



           Many of our customers have used our pin tools to "wound" cell culture monolayers and then study the effects of different treatments on wound healing. Initially, our standard 96 wound healing pin tools and a special wounding Library Copier (VP 381NW, VP 381NW4.5 or VP 381NW5) were used to make the wounds. For most applications, these wounding tools give good results. However, some customers who were using 384 well plates needed the wounds to be more precisely localized. For these customers, we have developed specialized pin tools that have very tight hole tolerances in the floating fixture so the wounds are consistently located in the same position in each well.

           A recent addition to our line of wounding pin tools are pins with a 0.05 mm layer of Parylene coating, deposited using a vapor deposition process to produce a soft lining on the pin tips. Each pin now acts as “eraser” to remove the cell monolayer without scratching the plastic well surface under the monolayer. Another new innovation and problem solved only by V&P Scientific.

           Another factor that can lead to wound variation is a loose fit between the microplate and the registration device (e.g., our VP 381NW Library Copier).  This is due to variation in the molds used to make the microplates. One way of dealing with the problem is to use our adjustable Library Copiers (VP 381NWGV4.5 or VP 381NWGH4.5).



           We recently developed a new Library Copier for creating wounds in 384 well microplates in the horizontal direction (VP 381NWGH4.5). We added a second set of slots to this library copier which allows the user to use a 384 pin tool containing only 192, or 96 pins which significantly reduces the cost of the wound creating pin tool, and still allows for the production of 384 wounds by simply changing the pin tool and library copier orientation.


    These pictures show the V&P fixture, AFIX384FPWP, filled with 192 or 96 FP-WP pins:


    The following pictures show the V&P fixture, AFIX384FPWP, filled with 192 or 96 FP-WP pins, being used to produce wounds in 384 plates half-a-plate at a time, or in quadrants by using the library copier: VP 381NWGH4.5.  Standard carbon paper was used to trace the scratch produced by the wound healing tool.



    Top Half of 384 Well Plate


    Bottom Half of 384 Well Plate

    Result, a Complete 384 Well Plate


    1st Quadrant(Upper Left) of a 384 Well Plate


    2nd Quadrant(Lower Left) of a 384 Well Plate


    Rotate Plate 180 Degrees, Repeat Scratches, Result a complete 384 Well Plate:


    CHO-K1 (ATCC® CCL-61™) Cells Before and After Scratching:

     Before                                                                                                                                                                                                  After




           V&P Scientific's pin tools are an effective way to perform wound healing experiments. The use of 384 well plates allows for high-throughput wound creation allowing many compounds to be screened for effects on cell migration or invasion. The use of V&P Scientific's Library Copiers helps to create wounds uniform in length and width. Parylene coated pins produce a soft lining on the pin tips. Each pin now acts as an “eraser” to remove the cell monolayer without scratching the plastic well surface under the monolayer.

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  2. Stirring Magnetic Beads in 500ml Bottles with Demagnetized Stir Bars

    We make stir devices that create a powerful vortex and the centrifugal forces are strong enough to keep magnetic beads suspended.

    Our part: VP 776-8-50DM is a demagnetized, round, PTFE encapsulated Alnico stir bar  50mm  long & 8mm in diameter. When used in combination with the VP 710D2 Multi Stirrus™, your magnetic beads will remain in uniform suspension. They are only weakly attached to the stir bar, and the centrifugal forces easily dislodges them and keeps them from settling to the bottom of the bottle.

    The same approach can be used for mixing magnetic beads in automation-friendly reservoirs with the use of our parylene encapsulated stainless steel bubble paddles. 

    Watch this video for a demonstration.

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  3. Drop-seq: Single-Cell RNA-Seq Protocol

    The new Single-Cell RNA-Sequencing protocol called “Drop-Seq” uses V&P Scientific’s Magnetic Tumble Stirrer {VP 710D2}, Support Stand {VP 710D2-4}, and Magnetic Stir Discs for stirring in a syringe on a syringe pump.

     A very interesting paper was recently published in Cell titled, “Highly Parallel Genome-Wide Expression Profiling of Individual Cells Using Nanoliter Droplets,” by Evan Macosko et al in the Steve McCarroll lab at Harvard.

     As a former bench scientist who has done her share of gene expression analyses the really old fashioned way, from large numbers of cells of singular origin, like a culture flask of yeast, I can attest that this Drop-seq method is a powerful system these researchers have developed to study complex mixtures of cells at the single cell level.

    Read their article to see how the Drop-seq method can be used in your own research. 

    I will explain the use of V&P Magnetic Tumble Stirrer in the Drop-seq protocol to ensure proper setup & use for fellow researchers.

    I would follow what the researchers have outlined in their protocol for the mixing of the beads. However, I would like to add some details to their setup description. They have a nice diagram of the relative positions of the syringe pumps and the microscope, but it does not include the position of the VP 710D2 relative to the syringe pump it is stirring. They do describe putting the syringe pump in a vertical position such as this:

    But what they don’t mention is the VP 710D2-4 Support Stand, which was designed for use when mixing in syringes on syringe pumps. The Stand positions the VP 710D2 above the syringe  to allow for more effective stirring by keeping the Magnetic Stirrer away from the pump. The reason for this can be found here.

    The magnetic stir bars mentioned for use within the syringe are actually stir discs! The thin, Parylene-coated Neodymium discs work well at a distance and do not interfere with the dispensing of fluid from the syringe. They are autoclavable, and priced so that they can be disposable. See our webpage for more information on these and other magnetic stir discs from V&P Scientific.

    This combination of V&P's innovative magnetic Tumble Stirrer and unique magnetic Stir Discs assisted Evan Macosko and the McCarroll lab at Harvard develop a method that, to paraphrase the title of their paper, profiles the genome-wide expression of individual cells on a large scale. We would love to help you do something similar with your research!

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  4. Stirring Cells or Particles in 50ml Tubes with New Stir Elements

    V&P Scientific has recently added a new line of stir elements which are capable of re-suspending cells or particles and keeping cells or particles in suspension without causing cell damage.

     The VP 772FN-25-55TF-150 {Tuning Fork} and the VP 772FN-20-21CV-150 {Torpedo-Cross} were both designed to be autoclavable. They fit inside 50ml centrifuge tubes to mix the constituents. The outer shape of both stir elements matches the inside topography of the tube.  Both designs allow you to take samples while the tube is being stirred. The Torpedo-Cross design has a lower profile and therefore requires less dead-volume than the tuning fork design. Both stir elements use two VP 782N-12-150  Neodymium Iron Boron magnetic discs.

    These stir elements have optimal performance with our VP 710D2 Multi Stirrus™. Both designs are well suited for mixing different solutions, resuspension of cells, or dissolution of powders. When these stir elements are used in conjunction with the VP 710D2 Multi Stirrus™ more than 24 50ml conical tubes can be mixed simultaneously. The stirring action does not shear or damage fragile cells even after continuous mixing.

     In a test experiment using human promyelocytic leukemia cells, 35ml samples were removed from a tissue culture flask and placed into three different 50ml conical tubes.

    The 1st tube was allowed to sit at room temperature with no stirring. The 2nd tube was stirred at 350 RPM with the Tuning Fork design{VP 772FN-25-55TF-150}. The 3rd tube was stirred at 350 RPM with the new Torpedo-Cross design {VP 772FN-20-21CV-150}.

    The cells in each tube were counted within 5 minutes of being removed from the tissue culture flask. They all had comparable cell counts with percent viability greater than 98%, as measured by Trypan blue exclusion. The three tubes were then allowed to incubate at room temperature for approximately one hour, with 2 tubes being continuously stirred at 350 RPM during the incubation.

     The cell counts taken from the tubes being stirred remained consistent with the counts that were taken within the first 5 minutes of removal from the tissue culture flask. The counts from the tube with no stir element showed a drop of 40% due to the settling of the cells. 

     The three tubes were then centrifuged for 5 minutes at 500 RPM to pellet the cells. The 2 tubes with stir elements were returned to the stir device and stirred for 5 minutes in an attempt to resuspend the pelleted cells. The counts from the tube with no stir device dropped by over 99%, consistent with the pelleting of the cells. The tubes being stirred returned to the counts comparable to those taken within the first 5 minutes of removal from the tissue culture flask. There was no evidence of cell damage seen in any tube as measured by Trypan blue dye exclusion; the percent viability remained greater than 98% in all three tubes.

     In a second test experiment, both stir elements were used to mix heavy glitter particulates. The Torpedo-Cross style element was superior in keeping heavy particulates in suspension. When very light particulates {fine glitter} were tested, the Tuning Fork design was equally effective. The Torpedo-Cross stir element, being a two piece design, is more expensive than the single piece Tuning Fork stir element, but offers a greater performance when stirring heavy particulates.

     In summation, both the Torpedo-Cross and the Tuning Fork style stir elements provide a safe and effective way of keeping cells or particulates in a uniform suspension throughout a 50ml conical tube, all the while allowing you to take samples while the tube is being stirred. The Torpedo-Cross is superior when using heavy particulates or clumping cells.

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  5. Keeping Magnetic Beads, cells and other Particulates in Suspension while Pipetting

    V&P Scientific invented Bubble Paddle Reservoirs in response to customers’ requests for a simple method to keep particulates in uniform suspension for both manual and robotic pipetting with minimum dead volume loss. We found that by designing Bubble Paddles with notches large enough between the Bubbles that would accommodate pipet tips we could keep the paddles spinning and creating up welling currents even while removing suspended particulates from the bottom of the reservoir. We also sculpted the bottom of the reservoirs to mimic the paddle shapes which enhances the turbulence efficacy and leaves space to accommodate the pipet tips.

    In the photo above, the blue dye in the reservoir highlights the contours we have machined into the bottom of the stirrer.  This design creates very powerful up welling fluid currents to keep very dense particulates like glass YSi SPA beads in uniform suspension.  Another  unique feature of the Bubble Paddle Reservoirs is their exclusive design that eliminates "fall out zones" where particulates fall out of solution that are so prevalent with other mixing reservoirs. 


    Here is what one of our customer’s at a major Pharmaceutical company had to say about our 384 Bubble Paddle Reservoir system  "The reservoir is really the best thing that I have found for YSi SPA beads which immediately fall out of solution when not mixed" ..... The bubble paddle is essential for YSi beads."


     Although the sculptured bottom design is essential for keeping very dense particulates in uniform suspension we have found that the shear forces that this design creates, especially at high speed can damage fragile cells or resins.  We have solved this problem by creating a more open design in the reservoir bottoms.  These open designs work very well in keeping lighter particulates uniformly suspended. See these products for examples of our open designs, VP 750-ECON-6, VP 750-ECON-6

    A, VP 750AL, VP 750AL-1, VP 750AL-2, VP 751-D-1-SBS.  The photo below illustrates 6 “U” channels instead of individual Bubble Paddle sculpting used in the VP 751-D-SBS.

    We have 3 different methods for powering the spinning of our Bubble Paddles, the following describes and compares the applications and advantages of these different methods:

     1. Direct magnetic coupling is a method where one of our VP 710 series Vertical Tumble Stirrer’s magnetic cylinder is used under or to the side of the reservoir to magnetically couple to the magnetic Stainless Steel Bubble Paddles and spin the paddles at a high rate of speed.   Initially this method was used with all particulates except paramagnetic beads.  Later we discovered if we used parylene encapsulated Bubble Paddles that the paramagnetic beads are suspended uniformly because they are only weakly attracted to the parylene encapsulated Stainless Steel Bubble Paddles and they are easily dislodged from the parylene encapsulated stainless steel at even low speeds.  A recent modification of this method was the VP 754V-50 made to adapt to the Formulatrix Mantis dispensing system see this video to see how our Vertical Bubble Paddle system works in a 50 ml tube and is powered by a VP 710D2.   The following video illustrates the Mantis at work dispensing paramagnetic beads from a VP 754V-50 reservoir to microplates – see

        The direct magnetic coupling method is the most cost effective way for keeping all particulates in uniform suspension.


    2. Dual magnetic clutch coupling through the reservoir’s wall to a motor’s drive shaft.  The Magnetic clutch versions are used in applications where Z height or space is limited by a robotic platform’s configuration. This method can NOT be used with paramagnetic beads because the paramagnetic beads are attracted to strong NdFeB magnets used in the magnetic clutches.

    3. Direct mechanical coupling of an aluminum (non-magnetic) Bubble Paddle to a motor’s drive shaft through a sealed bearing is another way to safely keep paramagnetic beads in suspension.  It also has the advantage of being able to stir very viscous solutions or slurries that are too viscous for other magnetically coupled methods to stir.


    We have helped many customers with many different uniform dispensing applications, please free to contact us with your particular needs.  The chances are that we have already solved your application problem. For example a customer came to us with unique application to suspend cells in molten agarose.  The VP 750-13-AL below was our solution.  It is made from anodized aluminum and is used to keep the contents warm and suspended.  This reservoir coupled with a heating block and a Vertical Tumble Stirrer was the solution.  The aluminum's superior heat conductive properties are very useful in keeping  molten agarose containing cells in a liquid state prior to dispensing to a another cooler media where the agarose will solidify around the cells.  

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  6. Magnetically Mixing Magnetic Beads for Dispensing: Large Volumes in a Bottle

    V&P Scientific is known for solving challenging mixing applications... We've done it again!

    We have several methods for magnetically mixing magnetic beads while dispensing to tubes or microplates from a container of concentrated stock.

    Starting small, one such method would be manually dispensing magnetic beads using a single pipette tip from a 1.5 ml tube with a Sandwich Style Stir Paddle VP 772FN-6-34, in which the magnet is kept out of the solution by being at the top of the Stir Paddle.

    Moving from small to medium size volumes, magnetic bead dispensing can be accomplished from 15 ml and 50 ml tubes with automated microplate dispensing instruments such as a Formulatrix Mantis or a ThermoScientific MultiDrop.

    Also in the medium volume range from 25 to 350 ml, multichannel pipettes {manual or automated} can be used to dispense magnetic beads from V&P’s Bubble Paddle Reservoirs {see Blog from Oct 23rd, 2015}.

    But how to mix the larger volumes used in cases where large batches of magnetic beads are being prepared and then dispensed?

    V&P Scientific introduces Magnetic Mixing of Magnetic Beads in a 500ml bottle with our VP 710D2 MultiStirrus in “conventional stir plate mode” and one of our “standard” PTFE-Encapsulated Magnetic Stir Bars, VP 776-10-80!

    Magnetic Stirrer VP 710D2 with VP 710D2-3 Accessory Stand {left}, PTFE Alnico Magnetic Stir Bars, VP 776-10-80 {middle} and VP 776-10-80C {right}.

    Because of the thickness of the PTFE around the not-so-strong Alnico magnetic core, the magnetic beads that do collect on the ends of the bar are easily spun off, within seconds, once the VP 710D2 MultiStirrus Stir Plate is turned on.

                                            10 seconds                                                           20 seconds                                               30 seconds                                

    And after the Magnetic Stir Bar is removed from the mixed solution, the only beads on the bar are held there by surface tension of the buffer! See below how easily they wash off with a small amount of buffer!

    The advantage of using our VP 710D2 MultiStirrus Stir Plate? It offers better magnetic coupling to our Alnico stir bars so that even viscous and concentrated magnetic bead solutions can be mixed in larger volumes.

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  7. Cleaning V&P Pins with Caustic Soda

         For daily and between-transfer cleaning, V&P Scientific recommends the VP 110 Pin Cleaning Solution. This proprietary liquid uses a combination of acid and detergent to remove soiling caused by cell debris, salts, proteins and nucleic acids. However, it may become necessary to use a more aggressive cleaning agent; caked on protein, organic soils, or burnt-on carbon deposits caused by flaming handheld replicators can affect transfer volume and consistency, and can be difficult to remove.

         For these cases, a solution of Sodium Hydroxide, or caustic soda, is recommended for deep cleaning. V&P Scientific pins are made from stainless steel and are not damaged by high pH, though, we recommend against exceeding solutions of more than 3% sodium hydroxide to avoid pitting of the stainless steel. Start with a 1% solution and increase for subsequent cleanings if needed. For best results, use the NaOH solution hot- between 60 and 80 degrees C. You can adjust the concentration, temperature, and residence time of the pins in the solution to accommodate the level of soiling.

         A sonicator may also be used to aid in cleaning, and can help maintain the temperature of the cleaning solution. Be sure to cover the pin tool during sonication to avoid splashing and wear all appropriate PPE as hot caustic solutions are extremely dangerous. An example cleaning procedure is described below:

    1.      Prepare a solution of 2% NaOH in distilled or deionized water.

    2.      Heat the solution to 60C.

    3.      Immerse the Pin Tool in the hot solution, making sure that the float plate and frames do not come    into contact with the solution. Only the pins should be submerged.

    4.      Sonicate with heat on 60C for 30 minutes.

    5.      Remove pins from cleaning solution and blot using V&P Scientific's VP 540DB blotting station.

    6.      Rinse pins well with distilled water. If any cleaning solution has splashed onto float plates, rinse the float plates. Blot.

    7.      Rinse pins well with 70% ethanol. If the float plates are wet, rinse the float plates with ethanol. Blot.

    8.      Air Dry Pin Tool

    9.      If pins are fully clean, perform the standard cleaning procedure with VP 110 Pin Cleaning solution and return pin tool to service.

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  8. Mixing E-Liquid or E-Liquid for Vaping

    There has been an increasing amount of customers purchasing our stirrers and stir bars for mixing E-Juice. E-Juice consists of a few simple ingredients which include, Vegetable Glycerine, Propylene Glycol, Nicotine and Flavoring. Vegetable glycerin, which serves as the base of E-Liquid, has a viscosity of 1412cp. For perspective, water has a viscosity of 1cp, while honey has viscosity of 10,000cp. Magnetic mixing is an effective and efficient way to mix E-Liquid, which results in faster steeping times and less work.


    Standard stir plates are not magnetically strong enough to mix such a viscous liquid in larger quantities. There are many YouTube videos demonstrating magnetic mixing with homemade stirrers and/or standard stir plates. However, these smaller stir plates only work for small volumes. Our customers are not making E-Liquid for themselves, rather are producing large quantities and batches to sell.


    V&P Scientific collaborated with San Diego based Vape Corner. Vape Corner is locally owned and has two locations in San Diego. As their business has grown, owner Gino Sugapong has researched other methods of mixing his E-Liquid. Currently they have been mixing their E-Liquid by hand. This yields a rather physical task and a 4 week steeping time.


    Because the ingredients in the E-Liquid have different viscosities, they separate from each other during the initial week of “steeping”. It’s important that each batch is mixed every day so that the entire mixture is homogenous. We aimed to compare stirring magnetically vs stirring manually - shaking by hand .

    We mixed 3 – one gallon batches of the same E-Liquid. Each bottle contains: Propylene glycol, Vegetable glycerine, flavoring, nicotine

    Bottle 1.            Control: Shaking by Hand, once a day for a week

    Bottle 2.            Magnetic mixing for 30 min, once a day for a week - 210 minutes of mixing total in a week

    Bottle 3.            Magnetic mixing 24hrs every day for a week - 10,080 minutes in a week

    We used the following V&P Products:

    VP 710C5 - Stir Base

    VP 772M-N52-27-111-PTFE - Stir Paddle


    We know that it takes up to 4 weeks for the E-Liquid to steep if shaken by hand. Our expectations were that Sample 3 - magnetic mixing 24/7-  would yield the best results in regards to taste and decreased steeping time.

    Day 1

    Bottle 1: Hand mixed for 30 min

    Bottle 2: Mixed magnetically with paddle for 30 min.

    Bottle 3: Mixed magnetically with paddle 24 hrs.

    Notes: After 15 min. of mixing, Bottles 2 and 3,  fully emulsified. Visually, a milky color due to the introduction of air during mixing. See Photo below:

    From left to right, Bottle 1, 2, 3 after 30min

    Day 3



    Bottle 1: Bottle is slightly lighter than the rest.

    Bottle 2: Looks similar to bottle 3

    Bottle 3: Still being mixed, looks similar to bottle 2

    Notes: It appears that bottles 2 & 3 are slightly darker in color than bottle 1.


     See Photo Below:

    From left to right, Bottle 1, 2, 3 after 72hrs


    Day 4-7

    Nothing changed visually from day 3. We could arguably see there was a slight difference in color. Both bottle 2 and 3, the magnetically stirred bottles were darker. The difference was slight and could be light reflections. At day 7, we took samples from each bottle and issued a blind taste test to the employees at Vape Corner.



    Bottle 1 - Hand Shake- : Flavor has not yet steeped. Still needs more time to steep.

    Bottle 2 - Magnetically Stirred for 30min/day for 7 days- : Steeping time was indistinguishable to a properly steeped batch. Flavor was  optimal.

    Bottle 3 - Magnetically Stirred 24/7 for 7 days- : Flavor was less than that of the other two bottles. However, the noticeable difference was that the Vape of this bottle was smoother the other two.



    Surprisingly enough, bottle 2 was the best outcome. We were able to achieve an appropriate steeping in one week by mixing the E-Liquid 30min/day for 7days. The benefit of this is that you won’t have to plan so far in advance for your stock of E-Liquid. This is especially true of stores, like Vape Corner, that carry a large variety of flavors. You can stock a fixed amount of any flavor, and if that begins to sell out quickly, you can make more in 1 week. This is a better scenario than having to plan 4 weeks in advance and having to tell customers you’re out of stock of their favorite flavor.

    Consequently, bottle 3 - magnetically stirred 24/7-  was smoother to inhale, though the flavor was decreasing. It is interesting to find that the increased stirring would diminish the flavor. If a smoother vape is preferable, it’s quite easy to adjust the recipe with more flavoring to compensate for the effect of the magnetic stirrer.


    Alternatively perhaps we should have magnetically mixed for 210 minutes to achieve the optimal flavor and done the taste test at this time point.  This would have significantly reduced the time to make a new batch.

    Using the VP 710C5 and the VP 772M-N52-27-111-PTFE, you can mix multiple bottles at the same time. Using our Patented Stirring Technology, you can quickly and easily mix viscous solutions such as E-Liquid. We were able to subjectively identify improved taste and quality of the E-Liquid with magnetic mixing versus mixing by hand.  

    Click here for videos of magnetic stirrers mixing e-liquid.

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