On so many levels, scientific research can be a messy undertaking. Human biospecimens committed to storage often face harsh conditions, including contact with stringent chemicals and solvents. Biobankers rely on careful documentation via barcoding to ensure that specimens survive the entire chain of custody biologically intact and connected with the requisite identifying data and medical records. If the laboratory conditions breach the integrity of the sample storage container, rendering it impossible to read the unique identifier 2-D bar code, the specimen may be compromised or even unusable. This represents not only a significant economic setback but also a lost research opportunity.
For this reason, the team at Thermo Scientific recently evaluated the performance of their Matrix 2-D bar-coded tubes against exposure to 100% dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), followed by abrasion.1 These polypropylene containers are equipped with a permanent DuraSeal septum and high-contrast bar coding designed to guarantee readability regardless of storage conditions.
To do this, they loaded a 96-well microplate with 100% DMSO (100 µl) before submerging the bar-coded portion of a variety of 2-D bar-coded tubes (selected from differing lots and formats) in the solvent. The team removed these tubes at three time points (1 hour, 2 hours, 24 hours) and rubbed them with a standard paper towel for abrasion. Following visual inspection, the team used a VisionMate ST reader (Thermo Scientific) to evaluate bar code readability for all samples.
Overall, the team reported no observed differences among the tested samples based on length of exposure to the solvent or abrasion. They were able to successfully read all 2-D bar codes at all time points without incident, noting only minimal transfer of black colorant to the paper towel used for abrading the specimen tubes. The evaluation team notes that the Matrix 2-D bar-coded tubes tested in this study are suitable for compound, biological and genomic biospecimens and that the performance observed here indicates high suitability for biobanking applications that require reliable traceability of samples, regardless of laboratory conditions.
1. Thermo Scientific. (2014) “Smart notes: Can 2D barcoded tubes resist DSMO and will they produce successful barcode reads following exposure to 100% DMSO solution?” SNBCTUBES 1114.