When working with large number of samples, whether it is protein assay, or DNA assay, it can be very difficult to keep track of samples in an orderly fashion. Especially if the samples are temperature sensitive, putting all these tubes on ice bucket can be challenging, not to mention keeping them straight so you can add or remove samples easily. Having sample tubes not organized can also lead to mistakes and increased variability, resulting in lost productivity, and wasted expense.
When you work in a cell culture laboratory, protein chemistry laboratory, or molecular biology lab often you are required to do large assays. I have worked in few companies in the lab and I know what it is like to deal with dozens of sample tubes. Very confusing and often difficult to keep track of , which leads to costly mistakes. Hours of time spent on preparing samples, collecting samples all that can go to waste if you make a mistake mis- identifying the sample, or adding the wrong reagents. It is very frustrating, especially painful when your manager is waiting for the data to present at a management meeting. Sound familiar?. You are not alone.
Now that I am no longer working in the lab on a daily basis, I had some time to think about some solutions to alleviate this problem. Although it is not perfect, the solution I have come up with are helpful to some degree, and avoid come costly mistakes during sample processing.
One of the things I was frustrated when working with large number tubes is that, the samples had to be kept on ice to prevent degradation. When there are dozens of tubes which although are labeled, keeping them organized in an ice bucket was very challenging. The tubes rarely stay straight, many times they tip over, and if you let it sit these in a room temperature, the ice will melt and the tubes will float, and make it very difficult to work with. The second problem was with all these tubes it is difficult to see them easily if they are arranged them all at the same height. Two products I designed will help with this problem. One of them PSMC 90 is a large solid aluminum chamber, which can hold up to 90 x 2 ml tubes. Since the stand is made of metal it stays cold when placed on top of the ice in an ice bucket. Not only the tubes are organized perfectly in rows, since most of the tubes are surrounded by cold aluminum, all the sample tubes are uniformly kept cold, which may help get better CV for the assay.
Another very useful tube holder is SSTH, multistep solid aluminiun displays tubes rows at different heights. This is specially useful if you are working with large number of tubes, which contain different items. One look and one can easily identify the tube you are looking for. Since it is made os solid aluminum, you can place it on ice bucket to cool the sample or on heat block to warm up the samples. It is ideal if you are working with large number of tubes in the assay.
The second item is ST15, or SR02 which is a stainless steel tube rack for holding 1.5 ml to 2 ml tubes. As the name suggest the tubes are placed at different levels or tiers. The biggest advantage for this arrangement is that, all the dozens of labeled tubes are easily visible with one look. No tube will be hidden behind another tube and difficult to see. It is like stadium seating for the tubes. These are simple innovations and tools to make the work flow to get a little easier, and make less mistake when doing large assays with dozens of sample tubes.