"Until now, if a scientist ran a screen, he or she had to program the instrument for every microplate. We might have, for example, 100 different types of 96-well microplates, each slightly different from the other," explained Carol Ann Homon, Co-Chair of SBS' Microplate Standards Development Committee (MSDC). "Now we can be sure that if plates meet the ANSI/SBS standards, results will be consistent across platforms, and costs to laboratories will be reduced."
"Vendors hesitated to change their molds until the standards were approved," noted SBS Executive Director Christine Giordano. "Now buyers can begin to look for plates that meet internationally recognized standards."
In the early phases of drug discovery, the challenge is to accurately identify compounds that can yield effective drugs. Biomolecular screening -- using a variety of automated methods to quickly pinpoint candidate molecules--is a key step in this process.
The microplate is an essential tool used in screening; it allows a high volume of compounds to be assayed rapidly and efficiently. Each microplate contains a number of wells in which a tiny amount of a compound to be tested is combined with a reagent. By gauging the subsequent effect on the reagent, a judgment can be made about a compound's potential value and effectiveness against a particular target biological system or disease. Using microplates that meet a common standard streamlines the process by ensuring compatibility across systems.
The standards proposed by the MSDC and approved by ANSI/SBS are: ANSI/SBS 1-2004: Footprint Dimensions; ANSI/SBS 2-2004: Height Dimensions; ANSI/SBS 3-2004: Bottom Outside Flange Dimensions; and ANSI/SBS 4-2004: Well Positions (the fourth standard addresses 96, 384, and 1536 well density formats, which are presently considered to be the platform for 98% of the screening assays).
The four ANSI/SBS standards apply to all microplates, without regard to their plastic composition.
The MSDC is now working on two additional standards, one that addresses microplate side-wall rigidity and another that addresses the "flatness" of well bottoms that are critical for use with imaging devices and other automated equipment.
The Society for Biomolecular Screening, (SBS; http://www.sbsonline.org,) the only international non-profit scientific society dedicated to drug discovery and its related disciplines, was founded in 1994 to provide a forum for global education and information exchange among professionals in the chemical, pharmaceutical, biotech, and agrochemical industries.
The society is dedicated to increasing interdisciplinary education and communication among organic and biochemists, molecular and cellular biologists, microbiologists, pharmacologists, genomics and proteomics specialists, nano- and robotics technicians, toxicologists, and information and data management specialists. SBS is also committed to fostering collaborations between industry and academia, and to promoting the highest quality and standards in all areas of drug discovery.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI; http://www.ansi.org) is a private, non-profit organization (501(c)3) that administers and coordinates the US voluntary standardization and conformity assessment system.