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Frequently Asked Questions

Capillary wash of a coverslip-mounted sample in Omni-stainer C12

How does Omni-stainer work?

Omni-stainer enables microscopy staining automation by hosting samples in thin capillary exchange chambers, thus allowing a liquid handler to supply reagents to the tops of the chambers. When a new buffer is added to the top, it is drawn into the chamber by the capillary force, instantly displacing the old buffer.

Omni-stainer S9 hosts 9 standard microscopy slides

What sample types does PAR2 support?

Omni-stainer exists in two versions: Omni-stainer S for slide-mounted samples and Omni-stainer C for coverslip-mounted samples. Please make sure to order the version according to your needs.

22x22mm square coverslips, 0.17mm thick

What coverslip types does Omni-stainer support?

The coverslip instrument Omni-stainer can accommodate samples mounted standard rectangular microscopy coverslips, 22x22 or 18x18 size.

Immune cell types in murine spleen visualized by 28-antibody CODEX staining

What types of applications require coverslip staining?

Coverslip staining is less conventional than staining on slides but it is widely used in a number of applications, such as:

  1. Cell cultures - adherent cell lines are often grown on coverslips as they easily adhere to the glass and form micro-colonies

  2. TIRF - Total Internal Reflection Microscopy illuminates a thin surface layer of approx. ~200nm and therefore requires the sample to be adhered directly to the coverslip

  3. Cyclic protocols that require on-microscope sample perfusion protocols, such as CODEX, CycIF, MERFISH, variations of STORM such as Exchange-PAINT - all require coverslip-mounted samples

Example of IHC staining automation:

CD8a IHC in human FFPE tonsil performed with Omni-stainer

What types of applications require slide-mounted samples?

Most OCT fresh-frozen or FFPE tissue sample staining protocols are performed on slides. Those include Immunohistochemistry (IHC), Immunofluorescence (IF), In Situ Hybridization (ISH), Imaging Mass Cytometry (IMC).

smRNA-FISH

Does Omni-stainer support heating and cooling?

PAR2 is made of heat-conductive aluminum and can be used in conjuncture with a temperature control module (like the one here), allowing the temperature to be programmatically controlled between 4C and 95C. This enables a variety of protocols, such as FFPE Antigen Retrieval, smRNA-FISH, or CycIF to be performed directly inside the PAR2 device.

Omni-stainer inside a liquid handling robot

Which liquid handlers are compatible with the Omni-stainer device?

Omni-stainer can be used in most liquid handling robots that support 96-well-plate-sized labware, including Hamilton, Agilent Bravo, Tecan Evo, and others. For those labs that would need to purchase a liquid handler to enable Parhelia automation, we recommend Opentrons OT-2, a simple budget liquid handler that is available here.

Omni-stainer hosts 12 coverslips samples

How does Omni-stainer compare to other autostaining solutions?

There are many staining automation solutions out there, with many big names and vendors. However, most of those systems are bulky, expensive, not particularly reagent-efficient, and are oriented towards clinical pathology labs. Since not designed to be used in research setting, such systems can be difficult to program and adapt towards custom protocols. In contrast, Omni-stainer is compact, affordable, extremely flexible and easy to use. Another unique feature is Omni-stainer unique capability to stain coverslip-mounted samples. 

Dextran sulfate

What kind of buffers does Omni-stainer support?

Omni-stainer is made of chemically inert materials and is compatible with most aqueous buffers including those containing high-viscosity agents (e.g. dextran sulfate, glycerol), high salt buffers (up to 0.65M salt), detergents, DMF/DMSO, semi-polar organic solvents (methanol, ethanol, isopropanol, acetone). It is not compatible with non-polar solvents such as petrol distillates or xylenes.