Thinking Small to Go Big - Four Compact Laboratory Tools For Budget Conscious or Start-Up Labs

Thinking Small to Go Big - Four Compact Laboratory Tools For Budget Conscious or Start-Up Labs

It costs a lot of money to open and operate a research laboratory: Personnel, overhead, travel to conferences, equipment, reagents, lab plasticware.....the list goes on and on. 

Money may be a challenge for many reasons. Perhaps grant funding is limited.

The lab may be a small start-up with big dreams and tight resources. 

Maybe the lab is located in a community college that wants to provide big-time lab training and experience to prepare the next generation of lab technicians, but has a limited operating budget to execute on this vision. 

Whatever the reason, two areas that a responsible lab manager will look to save money are: Equipment and plastic consumables. 

The consideration whether or not to choose to purchase used equipment is for a different blog article, but for those labs that see the value in working with new equipment, we'd like to introduce four pieces of equipment that are right sized and right-priced. 

Real-Time Thermal Cycler for quantitative PCR

Whether you are a research lab looking to quantify gene expression or viral pathogens, a diagnostic testing lab looking for the presence of GMOs or detecting infectious diseases, or a home based genomic enthusiast, you must have a real-time capable PCR machine to deliver reliable results. 

The trouble is that historically a real-time thermal cycler will cost, on the low end, over $20,000, making them difficult to obtain except for those labs that can combine resources or have large grants to fund the purchase. 

The MyGo Mini is the first sub $7000 real-time thermal cycler that offers all the features of more expensive machines at a fraction of the cost. 

Using Peltier technology with no moving parts, the MyGo Mini can process up to 16 samples (0.1mL) at a time and deliver results in under 60 minutes. 

All parameters and readings are set/done via USB connection to a laptop or Mac/PC

Available in four "juicy" colors, the MyGo Mini looks great on any bench. Combine with our Accuris brand Lo-Rox qPCR master mix for superior performance.

MyGel Mini Electrophoresis System and Smart Doc Gel Documentation System

Whether you are looking to introduce a cadre of curious students to the wonders of DNA gel electrophoresis or looking to expand your capacity to run more gels at a very modest cost, the Accuris MyGel Mini all-in-one gel box system is your answer. 

The MyGel Mini is a self-contained unit that allows the lab technician to pour gels, set up lanes with combs, load the gels with their pre-stained DNA and power the gel electrophoresis in a unit that is smaller than a college ruled notebook. 

Once you have run your DNA gels and are ready to read and capture images, consider one of our two Accuris SmartDoc systems. 

The SmartDoc is essentially a dark-room hood that sits on top of a transilluminator. To keep costs down, the SmartDoc uses the built-in camera on your cell-phone or tablet to capture images. 

Considering the average Android or iPhone now sport cameras with 12 megapixels or higher, you get incredibly sharp images that can quickly be shared via Wi-Fi or email. 

Labs that are still staining their DNA gels with Ethidium Bromide (EtBr) will want to consider the stand alone hood (above) that fits over your current UV transilluminator or can be combined with the Accuris E3000 UV transilluminator for a flawless fit. 

Laboratories and colleges that are now using one of the many safe dyes for their DNA staining (like Sybr Safe or our Smart Glow dyes) will consider the SmartDoc system that incorporates a built in blue LED light transillumnator

Bead Homogenizer for extracting DNA/RNA and sample prep

Ten days ago we visited at lab that was painstakingly preparing their mouse tissue for RNA extraction the old fashioned way. 

Using LNO2 (to keep samples dry) together with a metallic mortar and pestle, it was taking them hours and hours to generate the material they would need for their RNA extraction. Every new piece of tissue required stoppage to clean out and decontaminate the mortar and pestle. It was an all-day affair and very exhausting. 

We set them up to demo the new BeadBug 6 bead homogenizer by Benchmark Scientific and immediately smiles and laughter returned to the lab!

A bead homogenizer uses kinetic energy to shred apart and liquefy even very hard substances so their genetic material can be used. 

Tissue, bone, hair, grass, etc are loaded into 2mL sized tubes with a sturdy screw cap. Each tube contains triple-washed pure beads in a pre-determined size that will allow the maximum grinding action to occur within the tube. 

Beads are made of either zirconium, stainless steel and even garnet shards. 

The smallest and most affordable member of the family, the BeadBug, holds three tubes at a time, while the newer Beadbug 6 holds six. 

Quickly and with minimal effort, taking about forty-five seconds or so, samples are pulverized and ready for processing. 

Both are cold room safe, allowing for extraction to be done with a minimal increase in temperature and minimal risk of compromising genetic material. 

The next time you need to go shopping for lab equipment and supplies, take a look at these and other valuable ways Stellar Scientific can help advance your work without puncturing your wallet.