Managing lab consumable effectiveness through hydrophilic plasma treatment

Managing lab consumable effectiveness through hydrophilic plasma treatment

Hydrophilic Plasma Treatment

Our feature article this month focuses on the problem of reducing protein absorption on lab consumables through applied plasma treatment techniques. The article, featured on GEN, was originally released by Wheaton and features their own deep well micro-plates technologies. Wheaton reports on the use of ‘Advanced Plasma Enhanced Vapour Deposition’ to treat polypropylene, creating hydrophilic surfaces without the use of any coating, additives, or mould releasing agents that could subsequently leach, causing interferences in e.g. chromatography applications. The article clearly demonstrates how modern hydrophilic plasma treatment techniques can provide an edge over competitors in this increasingly competitive field of bio-medical plastics. For more information on how Henniker’s techniques can achieve similar results see our dedicated section of the website in which we discuss the treatment of medical plastics.

Henniker’s dedicated medical plastics area

Courtesy of GEN –

Protein Adsorption Can Be Reduced if the Right Lab Consumables Are Used

Manage the Interplay of Proteins, Surfaces, and Buffers to Keep Your Valuable Biomedical Products from Binding to Your Labware

AntiBIND tm -henniker-plasma-treatment-lab-consumables-protein-absorption

AntiBIND™ 96 Deep Well Microplate, Volume 0.5 mL with Conical Well Design
(picture courtesy of )


Protein adsorption, the nonspecific binding of protein molecules to solid surfaces, has always complicated the development as well as the commercialization of protein therapeutics. During research and development, proteins bind to different lab consumables such as microplates, storage tubes, pipette tips, and centrifuge tubes. During commercialization, proteins may bind to the primary container (glass or plastic vial) storing them.

In commercial packaging applications, protein adsorption issues can be offset. The amount of protein that will be adsorbed is calculated, and additional protein in that amount is added to compensate for the anticipated loss. This expedient, however, means additional cost, which is borne by the customers.

In research and development applications, protein adsorption issues are less straightforward. Accounting and compensating for protein adsorption is difficult because researchers are usually working with scarce samples and are looking for unknown target proteins or markers that are rare and present in very low quantities.

While the process of adsorption has been extensively studied, it is still an enigma. The process is complex, the result of the interplay of multiple factors.1 These factors, however, can be grouped into three categories: protein properties, labware surface qualities, and buffer formulation parameters (Table 1).2,3

Most studies have shown that the adsorption process is mainly driven by hydrophobic and electrostatic interactions between proteins and the solid surfaces they interact with. If these interactions could be eliminated or even just decreased, then protein adsorption would be decreased and, consequently, protein recovery would be increased, leading to lower operational costs, more accurate results, and a higher probability of finding the therapeutic hit protein.

To counter hydrophobic and electrostatic interactions, many of the new low-protein-binding consumables and packaging containers add a hydrophilic layer. This hydrophilic layer can be obtained by employing

1) a hydrophilic coating such as siliconization or different mold release agents; 2) hydrophilic copolymer blends; or 3) plasma treatment technology to modify plastic surfaces from hydrophobic to hydrophilic.

The biggest disadvantage of a hydrophilic coating or the use of a copolymer is the interacting and leaching of the hydrophilic species into solution in present of commonly used chromatography solvents . With plasma treatment technology, the lab consumable surface is modified at a molecular level to give a hydrophilic functionality without creating any species that could leach into solution and interfere with the sample.

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