Thursday, October 18, 2018

Simplifying Spheroid Media Exchange using the AMX Automated Media Exchange Module


3D cell culture methods encourage cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions and also promote more physiological cell morphologies and behaviors compared to cells grown on flat 2D surfaces. Due to the need to generate the most in vivo like data during in vitro drug discovery or toxicology testing, 3D spheroids are often used in long-term experimental procedures, and in microplate format to increase throughput. Since these procedures may extend to weeks, media exchange and dosing steps are critically important. When unattached spheroids are incorporated, performing aspiration and dispense steps manually can be slow and painstaking, and can still result in lost, damaged, or non-imaged spheroids

To solve these complications and make 3D assay procedures easier to perform, BioTek has developed an Automated Media Exchange module (AMX) to perform single media exchanges or multiple plate washes in a slow, controlled manner that allows liquid to be aspirated and dispensed from the wells of a spheroid microplate without removing or disturbing spheroids. The module consists of two unique, peristaltic pump cassettes each with a manifold containing eight stainless steel tubes. Cassette tubing is fed through the peristaltic pumps of BioTek’s MultiFlo™ FX Multi-Mode Dispenser and into bottles or tubes containing media. Software controls the pumps to run slowly and gently so as to not disturb the spheroids. The secondary pump is run backwards to remove liquid, while the primary pump is run in a forward direction to dispense liquid back to each well.

Automated Media Exchange Procedure. (Left) Liquid aspiration; and (Right) dispense by AMX cassette tubes.

By positioning the tubes at the back corner of the well and slightly elevated from the well bottom, away from the spheroid (see above figures), 80-90% of the liquid within the well can be removed and replaced with an appropriate volume for the procedure being completed.

Currently, validated methods exist for 96- and 384-well plates from a variety of plate vendors, and are available upon request.

To find out more about the AMX Automated Media Exchange module, we invite you to visit the following webpage:



By: BioTek Instruments, Brad Larson, Principal Scientist

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