Secure Aliquoting Machine (SAM): An error free automated system for labeling and aliquoting clinical samples

Case ID:

 Safe, Simple, Speedy Sample Transferring System (4STS)  

WSU Tech#: 14-1202

Technology Summary:

The Vacutainer blood collection tubes (BD) have been optimized for various tests. One of the innovations in the Vacutainer collection tubes is the addition of a special gel to the tube that allows the separation of serum or plasma from cellular component of blood such as RBC, WBC and platelets upon centrifugation.   Advantages of these tubes include the easy separation of serum or plasma from cellular component, easy and quick transfer of serum or plasma to a secondary aliquot tube, saving technician time in the lab and improving the workflow and turnaround time.  This has made Vacutainer the preferred choice of tube for blood collection and testing.  Serum or plasma should be transferred from the primary tube to secondary tube as soon as possible since many studies have shown significant changes in the value of analytes if the serum or plasma stays in the original collection tube.  The aliquot process is a manual practice and suffers from major problems (e.g. cross contamination of samples during aliquoting, biohazard risk to the processing staff in the lab, sample mix-up during the aliquoting process due to human errors and increased turnaround time for test result).


A new tool has been designed to improve the aliquoting step. It is a Simple, Safe and Speedy Sample Transferring System (4STS) for rapid transfer of sample between tubes. It can be a standalone manual system or used to enhance automation.  The 4STS system was created to achieve the following goals and resolve the current issues of the specimen processing step: 1.  transfer of serum or plasma from original tube to secondary tube without opening the original tube; 2. holds the primary and secondary aliquot tube together, eliminating the possibility for mislabeling errors; 3. reduce the tech time for aliquoting samples; 3. reduce the turnaround time for assays by shortening the processing time; 4. eliminate the biohazard risk to the staff at specimen processing department and 5. eliminate the risk for cross contamination among samples. A working concept model of 4STS for demonstration purpose has been built.  In essence, the technology has 2 docking ports for tubes, a central barrier and a double ended needle that will allow fluids to pass from one tube to another.


The 4STS can be used with any tube used for collection of liquid samples from patients such as blood, amniotic fluid, BAL, CSF, precardial fluid, urine, etc.  The following page has an example of how the system works with vacutainer tubes such as PPT or SST.  The gel in these tubes separates the plasma or the serum from blood cells upon centrifugation. To aliquote or transfer the plasma or serum to a new tube, the 4STS is placed on a Vacutainer and the tube s inverted.  After this, an empty tube that is to receive the plasma/serum is inserted into the bottom chamber of the 4STS.  The gravity allows the plasma/serum to flow into the aliquot tube.  If a vacutainer tube is used to receive the plasma or serum, the vacuum in the receiving tube will speed up the sample transfer. You can note by the figure on the following page that the needle traversing the central barrier has holes on each side of the needle.  This ensures that no matter what thickness the cap of the Vacutainer (or other brand) has, the maximum amount of serum/plasma will be transferred. 

Benefit Analysis:


The market size can be seen in the sales volumes of the BD Vacutainer.  BD produces in excess of 3.5 billion tubes annually.  We believe that the final product will be able to be manufactured as 1 or possibly 2 pieces of molded hard plastic.  If this is the case, given sufficient volume, we believe the technology should be able to be manufactured for about $0.05 per unit.


The real benefit for this technology may be in automated systems; which currently use expensive sensors and a suction based removal and transfer systems.

Stage of Development: Commercial


Technology is ready to license.


Patent Status:


Through the Office of Technology Commercialization at Wayne State University, we have filed an extensive and detailed patent application to the USPTO office. This is a detailed methods and composition of matter application with both specific and fairly broad claims.


Licensing Opportunity:

WSU is looking for a commercial partners interested in furthering the validation of this technology and bringing the technology to market.  The inventors would be open to assist in the generation of SBIR/STTR  grants to fund the further development of this technology.



Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Tech Transfer Staff
Wayne State University
Hossein Salimnia