Beyond the multitude of microplate technologies and applications there lies an interesting and novel product for nepholometer light-scattering and turbidity measurements. The NEPHELOstar Plus from BMG Labtech is a laser-based microplate detection device for the analysis of insoluble materials or turbidity changes in solutions. The technique has applications in drug solubility screening, protein binding activities, microbial growth analysis, petroleum process control, and other areas.

The platform is built around the optical technology. A high intensity laser diode light source is passed through the sample microplate well into a scattered light detector. This Ulbricht sphere detector allows the straight passage of light unencumbered through solution. If the presence of particles in the solution results in the scattering of light and reflection around the sphere, the behavior is ultimately captured by a photodiode and translated into concentration. The relationship between the concentration of scattering particles and scattering light intensity is linear over a wide range in solution.

An innovative feature of the NEPHELOstar is the ability to manipulate the beam diameter and intensity for optimal performance and a broad scope of applications. For instance, the microplate type or the liquid properties may necessitate adjusting beam width to accommodate well geometry or fluid meniscus effects. Light scattering can be measured at incident angles up to 80 degrees contributing to the increased sensitivity of the platform as well.

The power and versatility of the technology, as well as liquid handling capabilities of the instrument, make the NEPHELOstar useful for a number of assays and applications. Determining drug solubility is an essential step in early screening and ADME studies, as compound behavior can have dramatic effects on mode of action and efficacy. As such, the instrument can be beneficial to HTS and drug discovery labs as a competent alternative to more laborious and time intensive instrumentation.

Another application for the technology includes measurement of the binding behavior and the quantification of proteins, as clinical chemistry assays often measure turbidity changes as a result of serum protein binding events and precipitation. Yet another application includes monitoring microbial growth kinetics for the analysis of drug effects.

The platform benefits from a variety of features such as precise temperature control, shaking capabilities, and advanced data processing software. These features, coupled with the ability to interface with robot and plate stacker devices, make the NEPHELOstar both a capable and forward facing platform.