An Introduction to the Maxprep™ Liquid Handler

Ken Doyle, Promega

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Automation As You Imagined

As forensic laboratories strive to meet the demands of processing an increasingly larger number of samples, establishing automated workflows can improve efficiency to meet those demands. While the Maxwell® platform addresses the DNA extraction needs of small- to medium-sized laboratories, many laboratories desire higher sample throughput as well as automation of one or more steps in their workflow.

The Maxprep™ Liquid Handler is the perfect complement to the Maxwell® line of products. The Maxprep™ instrument can process a variety of sample types, including extracted DNA or swabs and punches from reference samples. It can perform both pre-extraction sample processing and post-extraction methods such as DNA quantification setup, normalization and STR amplification setup, and CE setup. Intuitive and easy-to-use pre-loaded methods are being developed and tested by Promega and will be supported by Promega. The user-friendly software interface enables anyone in your laboratory to quickly run samples using the preprogrammed methods. No programming experience is required, since you do not need to create methods files or write protocols. In addition, the instrument modules can work in parallel, allowing them to perform pre-processing, extraction or post-processing tasks simultaneously to boost efficiency.

The intuitive touchscreen software provides a visual and interactive interface for preparing the liquid handler worktable and setting up customized, lab-specific method variants. Users can be trained and running samples within hours, compared to the time involved in developing or purchasing complicated liquid handling protocols with other systems.

The Portal Access software acts as the information hub for sample tracking, DNA concentration data, and consumables and reagent tracking across multiple instruments. The software maintains sample traceability from the first DNA extraction step to the final CE setup step and recommends protocols for next steps as you move through your casework or database workflows. Portal even enables your laboratory to export data that can be used with other instruments in your workflow. You can place instruments anywhere in the laboratory and sample tracking information will be communicated from one device to the next.

Customized run reports are generated after every run on each instrument module. These reports can be exported automatically to a network location.

Pre-loaded Pre-extraction Protocols–Coming Soon!

Preprocessing for Maxwell® Instruments

Preparation of samples from tubes or plates for extraction on either the Maxwell® FSC or Maxwell® RSC 48 Instruments

Pre-loaded Post-extraction Protocols

Eluate Transfers

Transfer eluted DNA from Maxwell® elution tubes to more permanent storage containers. Reformat and combine multiple Maxwell® runs from elution tubes to microplates.

Quantification Setup

The automated method prepares 96-well PCR plates for DNA quantification by real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR) using the PowerQuant® or Plexor® HY Systems. Amplification mix creation and dilution of standards are fully automated. The software guides you at each step. Using the Maxprep™ Liquid Handler for your quantification set up removes user to user variability from qPCR and cuts hands-on time from an hour or more to just minutes.

Direct Amplification STR Setup of Punches and Swabs

Efficient direct amplification STR typing requires consistent sample transfer, effective reaction setup and robust chemistry. The Maxprep™ Liquid Handler is designed to quickly set up amplification plates of database samples using Promega STR kits.

DNA Normalization and STR Setup

The Maxprep™ Liquid Handler performs all transfer steps in conjunction with Portal sample tracking, greatly reducing the chances of sample mix-up from human error. Pre-installed methods for DNA normalization and STR setup of casework samples using Promega STR kits are available. The Maxprep™ instrument can process extracted DNA samples that are in 0.5ml elution tubes on Maxwell deck trays and various storage tubes and plates, identifying the type of sample vessel by their barcodes. You can process up to 48 samples in 60 minutes.

CE Setup–Coming Soon!

Set up 96 well plates for analysis on capillary electrophoresis instruments

Service and Support

The Maxprep™ Liquid Handler is backed by a comprehensive standard warranty, expert service and a full line of additional service products. With a comprehensive menu of service and support options, you can be confident that your equipment will be working properly and ready when you need it. Installation Qualification (IQ), Operational Qualification (OQ) and Preventive Maintenance (PM) services ensure that your instrument is fully functional and provide documentation that the instrument is operating to defined specifications.

The Maxprep™ Liquid Handler is installed by qualified Promega personnel who will test the instrument, document installation actions and train laboratory personnel to successfully operate the instrument. Additionally, Promega can offer flexible, consultative Validation Services to those forensic laboratories who wish to add the Maxprep™ instrument into their workflow, but who lack the resources to do so themselves.

With an interface that’s both intuitive and efficient, the Maxprep™ Liquid Handler may become the most popular tool in your forensic laboratory.

To learn more about personal automation for your forensic laboratory, visit: