Superhydrophobic paper in the development of disposable labware and lab-on-paper devices

Traditionally in superhydrophobic surfaces history, the focus has frequently settled on the use of complex processing methodologies using nonbiodegradable and costly materials. In light of recent events on lab-on-paper emergence, there are now some efforts for the production of superhydrophobic paper but still with little development and confined to the fabrication of flat devices. This work gives a new look at the range of possible applications of bioinspired superhydrophobic paper-based substrates, obtained using a straightforward surface modification with poly(hydroxybutyrate). As an end-of-proof of the possibility to create lab-on-chip portable devices, the patterning of superhydrophobic paper with different wettable shapes is shown with low-cost approaches.
Furthermore, we suggest the use of superhydrophobic paper as an extremely low-cost material to design essential nonplanar lab apparatus, including reservoirs for liquid storage and manipulation, funnels, tips for pipettes, or accordion-shaped substrates for liquid transport or mixing. Such devices take the advantage of the self-cleaning and extremely water resistance properties of the surfaces as well as the actions that may be done with paper such as cut, glue, write, fold, warp, or burn. The obtained substrates showed lower propensity to adsorb proteins than the original paper, kept superhydrophobic character upon ethylene oxide sterilization and are disposable, suggesting that the developing devices could be especially adequate for use in contact with biological and hazardous materials.

Contaminating levels of zinc found in commonly-used labware and buffers affect glycine receptor currents

Zinc is an allosteric modulator of glycine receptor function, enhancing the effects of glycine at nM to low μM concentrations, and inhibiting its effects at higher concentrations. Because of zinc’s high potency at the glycine receptor, there exists a possibility that effects attributed solely to exogenously-applied glycine in fact contain an undetected contribution of zinc acting as an allosteric modulator. We found that glycine solutions made up in standard buffers and using deionized distilled water produced effects that could be decreased by the zinc chelator tricine.
This phenomenon was observed in three different vials tested and persisted even if vials were extensively washed, suggesting the zinc was probably present in the buffer constituents. In addition, polystyrene, but not glass, pipets bore a contaminant that enhanced glycine receptor function and that could also be antagonized by tricine. Our findings suggest that without checking for this effect using a chelator such as tricine, one cannot assume that responses elicited by glycine applied alone are not necessarily also partially due to some level of allosteric modulation by zinc.

Labware additives identified to be selective monoamine oxidase-B inhibitors

Plastic labware is used in all processes of modern pharmaceutical research, including compound storage and biological assays. The use of these plastics has created vast increases in productivity and cost savings as experiments moved from glass test tubes and capillary pipettes to plastic microplates and multichannel liquid handlers. One consequence of the use of plastic labware, however, is the potential release of contaminants and their resultant effects on biological assays.
We report herein the identification of biologically active substances released from a commonly used plastic microplate. The active contaminants were identified by gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy as dodecan-1-ol, dodecyl 3-(3-dodecoxy-3-oxopropyl)sulfanylpropanoate, and dodecanoic acid, and they were found to be selective monoamine oxidase-B inhibitors.

Open Labware: 3-D printing your own lab equipment

The introduction of affordable, consumer-oriented 3-D printers is a milestone in the current “maker movement,” which has been heralded as the next industrial revolution. Combined with free and open sharing of detailed design blueprints and accessible development tools, rapid prototypes of complex products can now be assembled in one’s own garage–a game-changer reminiscent of the early days of personal computing. At the same time, 3-D printing has also allowed the scientific and engineering community to build the “little things” that help a lab get up and running much faster and easier than ever before.

3D Printing in the Laboratory: Maximize Time and Funds with Customized and Open-Source Labware

3D-Printed Labware for High-Throughput Immobilization of Enzymes

  1. In continuous flow biocatalysis, chemical transformations can occur under milder, greener, more scalable, and safer conditions than conventional organic synthesis. However, the method typically involves extensive screening to optimize each enzyme’s immobilization on its solid support material. The task of weighing solids for large numbers of experiments poses a bottleneck for screening enzyme immobilization conditions.
  2. For example, screening conditions often require multiple replicates exploring different support chemistries, buffer compositions, and temperatures. Thus, we report 3D-printed labware designed to measure and handle solids in multichannel format and expedite screening of enzyme immobilization conditions.
  3. To demonstrate the generality of these advances, alkaline phosphatase, glucose dehydrogenase, and laccase were screened for immobilization efficiency on seven resins. The results illustrate the requirements for optimization of each enzyme’s loading and resin choice for optimal catalytic performance. Here, 3D-printed labware can decrease the requirements for an experimentalist’s time by >95%.
  4. The approach to rapid optimization of enzyme immobilization is applicable to any enzyme and many solid support resins. Furthermore, the reported devices deliver precise and accurate aliquots of essentially any granular solid material.

Adsorption of bacteriophages on polypropylene labware affects the reproducibility of phage research

Hydrophobicity is one of the most critical factors governing the adsorption of molecules and objects, such as virions, on surfaces. Even moderate change of wetting angle of plastic surfaces causes a drastic decrease ranging from 2 to 5 logs of the viruses (e.g., T4 phage) in the suspension due to adsorption on polymer vials’ walls. The effect varies immensely in seemingly identical containers but purchased from different vendors. Comparison of glass, polyethylene, polypropylene, and polystyrene containers revealed a threshold in the wetting angle of around 95°: virions adsorb on the surface of more hydrophobic containers, while in more hydrophilic vials, phage suspensions are stable.
The polypropylene surface of the Eppendorf-type and Falcon-type can accommodate from around 108 PFU/ml to around 1010 PFU/ml from the suspension. The adsorption onto the container’s wall might result in complete scavenging of virions from the bulk. We developed two methods to overcome this issue. The addition of surfactant Tween20 and/or plasma treatment provides a remedy by modulating surface wettability and inhibiting virions’ adsorption. Plastic containers are essential consumables in the daily use of many bio-laboratories. Thus, this is important not only for phage-related research (e.g., the use of phage therapies as an alternative for antibiotics) but also for data comparison and reproducibility in the field of biochemistry and virology.

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