Quicker sample preparation Varian's new sample preparation system claims to improve throughput for routine NMR laboratories by saving time on the preparation and purification of samples by liquid chromatography (LC) and downstream processing of fractions for NMR analysis. This is achieved by fully automating the entire NMR sample preparation workflow from raw samples to purified fractions reconstituted in NMR compliant solvents and tubes. The automation feature combines robotics and solid phase extraction (SPE) to deliver purified, concentrated fractions into standard NMR tubes ready for analysis. The system may be adapted to a wide range of purification chemistries from complex separations (SPE-LC-SPE-NMR) to simple dissolve-and-dispense applications. "The 7800-AP combines Varian's strengths in LC, sample preparation and magnetic resonance to enhance productivity for analytical chemists," said Martin O' Donoghue, Senior Vice President, Scientific Instruments, Varian. "Information rich detection now begins with automated sample preparation for high-throughput, routine NMR laboratories." Varian are fresh from acquiring the assets of U.S-based chromatography outfit Analogix for $11m. The acquisition is seen by many as an attempt by the lab instrument and vacuum technology supplier to build on its laboratory consumables portfolio by both, 'organic and acquisitive means.' Varian, like other analysts, believes the lab automation market is currently undergoing a period of substantial growth as companies seek to lower cost per experiment and have better control of R&D data and processes. Automating some of the more laborious and/or tedious tasks in drug discovery, time is freed up for scientists to concentrate on more in-depth experiments. RNAi Vectors Life Science technology specialists, Invitrogen, provide details of its two new vectors for RNAi research. The BLOCK-iT HiPerform Lentiviral PolII miR RNAi Expression System comes with Emerald Green Fluorescent Protein (EmGFP) and is deemed suitable for applications including in vivo RNAi. The system offers the ability to deliver to nondividing, primary, and hard-to-transfect cells with lentiviral technology coupled to multi-site technology for promoter flexibility. The new vector contains an mRNA stabilising sequence (WPRE) and a nuclear import sequence (cPPT) which generate up to 5-fold higher virus titers and emGFP expression than previous versions. The BLOCK-iT Inducible PolII miR RNAi Expression System uses a tetracycline-inducible promoter that allows researchers to control miR RNAi expression so that even genes that are essential to the function of a cell may be knocked down. New microplate reader Like the industry for automated sample preparation, high throughput technologies are also in demand as the pharmaceutical industry continually presses for improvements in high-throughput screening technology. High-throughput screening figures approximate between 100,000-300,000 or more compounds per screen to produce approximately 100-300 hits. If lucky, one or two of these become lead compound series. Larger screens of up to 1,000,000 compounds in several months may be required to generate something closer to five leads. BMG Labtech's PHERAstar Plus is a simultaneous dual emission HTS microplate reader offering detection technologies including fluorescence intensity/FRET, fluorescence polarization, time-resolved fluorescence/TR-FRET, laser-based AlphaScreen, luminescence / BRET, and UV/Vis absorbance. BMG claim the PHERAstar Plus is the only microplate reader on the market with five photomultiplier tubes (PMTs) and Simultaneous Dual Emission (SDE) technology, which allow the capture of TR-FRET decay curves in real-time for assay optimisation. The microplate reader will be delivered with a new MARS Data Analysis Software with enhancements such as S/N, Z', and many other standard calculations. Improved robotic integration capabilities, digital signature and the 21 CFR part 11 compliance of MARS are also included. Laboratory conical mixer Japanese Particulate technology specialist Hosokawa Micron extends its established range of Vrieco Nauta conical mixers with a mixer dedicated to laboratory use. Conical mixers are used for a wide variety of applications; especially all kinds of processes take place in a closed and controlled environment, for pharmaceutical, chemical and other products. Addition and extraction of volatiles under vacuum or overpressure conditions and various biochemical processes are just some examples. The new mini mixer has been developed as a batch mixer for a wide range of powders, pastes and slurries, and meets all FDA, GMP and industry standards. The unit includes a compact drive unit, non-lubricated orbit arm and is designed for easy cleaning between batches. With variable speeds on both the rotating screw and its orbital arm, the Minimix controls the continuous movement of product from the bottom of the vessel to the top whilst the orbital arm revolves the screw around the inner vessel wall. The product then flows downwards into the centre of the vessel, completing the intensive and highly efficient mixing action. Manufactured from stainless steel and available in a range of sizes from 5 to 20 litres, the mixer includes exchangeable containers for quick and simple batch exchanges, helping avoid cross contamination between batches. Screw speed can be set between 120-300 rpm whilst the orbital arm rotates at 4-10 rpm.