US 3856656 A
Apparatus facilitating electrophoresis studies. A previously prepared gel is shipped and stored in a closed container with the gel and a moisture preserving pad disposed in space separated positions on the lid and bottom of said container. The container is separable for use with the gel carrying lid being used for the reception of specimens, antibodies, serums, etc. An electrophoresis cell is divided by a diaphragm element into separate receptacles that hold an electrolyte buffer solution with electrodes of a power source positioned in each receptacle. Movable support partitions that are selectively positionable in alternate slots have pocket elements to receive and hold moisture absorbing pads or wicks in close solution conducting contact with the supports to facilitate the wetting of the gel and to establish electrical contact therewith when the container is placed in inverted position on said supports. The electric charge of the power supply is transmitted to object study specimens in the gel. A cover encloses the cell and the contents thereof, and power is cut off to the apparatus when the cell cover is removed.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent [191 Brink Dec. 24, 1974 ELECTROHORETIC APPARATUS  Inventor: Miless L. Brink, 1050 l-lalland St.,
Lakewood, Colo. 80215  Filed: June 18, 1973  Appl. No.: 370,910
 US. Cl. 204/299, 204/180 G  Int. Cl B01k 5/00  Field of Search 204/18O G, 299
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,371,027 2/1968 La Paglia et a1 204/299 3,494,846 2/1970 Arquembourg 204/180 G 3,674,678 7/1972 Post, Jr. et a1 204/299 3,755,121 8/1973 Schlutz 204/180 G 3,764,513 10/1973 Saravis 204/299 Primary Examiner-John H. Mack Assistant Examiner A. C. Prescott Attorney, Agent, or Firm-C. B. Messenger  ABSTRACT v Apparatus facilitating electrophoresis studies. A previously prepared gel is shipped and stored in a closed container with the gel and a moisture preserving pad disposed in space separated positions on the lid and bottom of said container. The container is separable for use with the gel carrying lid being used for the reception of specimens, antibodies, serums, etc. An electrophoresis cell is divided by a diaphragm element into separate receptacles that hold an electrolyte buffer solution with electrodes of a power source positioned in each receptacle. Movable support partitions that are selectively positionable in alternate slots have pocket elements to receive and hold moisture absorbing pads or wicks in close solution conducting contact with the supports to facilitate the wetting of the gel and to establish electrical contact therewith when the container is placed in inverted position on said supports. The electric charge of the power supply is transmitted to object study specimens in the gel. A cover encloses the cell and the contents thereofi'and power is cut off to the apparatus when the cell cover is removed.
9 Claims, 6 Drawing Figures ELECTROHORETIC APPARATUS BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION Electrophoresis studies are made for the determination of characteristics of specimen samples in order to facilitate the diagnosis and treatment of disorders. Many different types of electrophoretic apparatus have previously been devised and used, but usually such apparatus is relatively complicated in its design and construction, and it is, accordingly, quite expensive.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION It is believed that the availability of electrophoretic studies is more limited than it would be if the processing apparatus was less complicated and less expensive and if individual preparation of the gel substrate was not required. In order to avoid these shortcomings, the present disclosure provides an electrophoretic apparatus that includes a simplified cell construction that is adapted for usage with an improved container that is operative as a gel and specimen support and/or a shipping and handling container. The cell has an enclosing cover that prevents access to the electrodes, specimen and buffer solution during periods of use with the cover being interposed with the power circuit so that the power must be cut off when the cover is removed. Movable supports within the cell hold buffer solution wicks so that the gel will be wetted and subjected to the electrical circuit when the gel carrying lid of a shipping type container is separated from the bottom thereof and is placed in inverted position on such supports. Specimens, serums, antibodies, etc. may be applied to de fined areas in the gel to complete the electrophoresis study. Since both the cell cover and the lid are of a translucent material, the progress of the study can be observed. On completion of the study and removal of the gel supporting lid, the lid may be rejoined to the bottom of the container to provide a closed and protected environment where the gel, specimen and any antibodies studied will be protected for subsequent storage, shipping and handling operations. A moistened pad is provided within the container in order to maintain a desirable gel and specimen preserving atmosphere therein.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a perspective view showing the electrophoretic cell used,
FIG. 2 is a perspective view showing the lid of a container apparatus used herein,
FIG. 3 is a perspective view showing a cell cover structure,
FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional elevation taken along the line 4-4 of FIG. 1,
FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional elevation taken along the line 5-5 of FIG. 1, and
FIG. 6 is a perspective view showing both the lid and bottom of a gel carrier shipping container. 9
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS The accompanying drawings illustrate preferred embodiments of electrophoretic apparatus made in accordance with the present invention. In FIG. 1 an electrophoretic cell structure is illustrated. The construction of cell 11 provides an upwardly opening receptacle having a bottom 12, side walls 13 and 14 and end walls l6 and 17. A centrally disposed diaphragm element 18 interconnects the side walls 13 and 14 and divides the interior of cell 11 into separate compartments. Electrolyte buffer solution is placed and retained in such separate compartments 21 and 22. The prongs 23 and 24 of a power connector which extend out from the side wall 14are connected to separate electrodes 25 and 26 that are positioned within the respective compartments 21 and 22 and are supported on the central diaphragm 18 by holders 27. When a power plug 28 as shown in FIG. 5 is interconnected to the prongs 23 and 24, DC power will be conducted to the separate compartments 21 and 22 and the buffer solutions 29 and 30 in the compartments 21 and 22, respectively, will be oppositely charged. The electrical potential established in the separate compartments 21 and 22 is to be conducted to or applied for the study of the characteristics of specimens.
The remaining structure of the cell 11 provides adjustable supports for a specimen receptacle or container that is used. Actual specimen support isprovided by a lid 31 of a container combination 80, as shown in FIG. 6. The lid 31 and bottom 32 are cooperatively formed halves of such container, and the combined structure includes hinges 33 and a closure snap 34. The lid and bottom of the container are separable when the hinge 33 is parted. The same hinge construction is used to provide a pivot mounting; for the lid as the lid moves to and from a closed position of engagement with respect to the bottom 32. When the hinges are engaged and the container is closed, the catches 34 serve to hold the container 80 in the closed configuration.
In the illustrations in FIGS. 2 and 6 it will be seen that the lid 31 has upstanding side walls 35 and 36 and end walls 37 and 38. Specimen receptacles 40 are positioned in a gel substrate 60 deposited on the inner surface 39 of the lid. Antibody or serum slot receptacles 41 are provided in interspersed positons with respect thereto. In order to support the lid 31 in desired posi tion within the cell structure 11 and out of direct contact with the buffer solution 29-30, partition supports 43 and 44 are provided for use in the separate compartments 21 andd 22. Since the specimen containers 80 may be of varied size, a plurality of alternate socket receptacles 45-47, 46-48 are provided in the side walls 13 and 14 to receive and support the partition supports 43 and 44. Where a larger size container is used, as illustrated, the supports 43 and 44 will be disposed in the outer sockets 45 and 46, as shown in FIG. 4. Each of the partition supports 43 and 44 can be provided with a plurality of downwardly extending slots 50 in positions adapted to receive and accommodate the side walls 35-36 or end walls 37-38 of a container lid 31. With this arrangement the inner surface 39 of lid 31 can be brought into direct contact with the top edge 51 of the partition supports 43 and 44.
In usage such direct contact is not established, however, due to the interposition of absorbent paper type of wicks 53-54. The wicks are received in pocket structures 55 and 56 formed integrally on the partition supports or applied thereto to closely engage the absorbent paper wick structures and to hold the wicks in close contact with the surface of such supports 43-44. With close contact a capillary action will be established that will tend to deliver the buffer solution 29-30 to the top of the partition supports 43-44 in a manner that supplements the natural moisture absorbing and distributing operations of the absorbent paper wicks 5354. Due to the combined absorbency and capillary flow ca pabilities, an adequate movement of buffer solution will be established to deliver the solution to the inner surface 39 and the specimen container lid 31 and the gel 60 disposed thereon. Actually the flow delivery of buffer solution is made to establish electrical contact with the specimen supporting gel 60 that is applied to the surface 39 of the lid 31. In practice it is this gel 60 which is cut or formed to provide the specimen receptacles 40 and the serum slots 41. In accordance with electrophoresis practices, the gel may be of agar or other known and proprietary substances used in connection with electrophoresis studies. Preferably the gel should be of a type that is non-hardening when in the presence of moisture provided by the buffer solution, by water or by other desired solvents.
The container 80, as shown in FIG. 6, provides a pad 58 on the interior surface of the bottom 32 that is adapted to receive a moistening agent compatible with the gel 60 used in the lid 31. As a unit of manufacture, the separable container provides a specimen support surface that may be of clear transparent plastic and a bottom or closure that may be securely joined and affixed thereto to enclose both the specimen, its supporting gel and a moisture preserving pad. This container may be conveniently handled, shipped and stored for use on a when required basis. The gel preparation can be applied to the lids, and the entire container inclusive of the moistened pad will preserve the gel during shipping and storing operations, or the same container can be used to facilitate shipping and handling of specimen samples that are already applied to the supporting gel. In similar manner the containers can be used to facilitate the analysis and handling of specimens that have already been electrophoretically developed. Where a container structure of clear transparent material is provided, microscopic, spectrographic, photographic and other studies of the specimen and its interaction with antigens or serums can be completed. After completion of the required studies the closed container and its moistened pad will serve to preserve the specimen or study for subsequent review, etc. After all required studies have been completed, the gel itself can be stabilized for removal from the container for continued storage in plastic envelopes or other file type receptacles. If the gel and any developed specimens are removed, the container can be reconditioned for recycled usage by the application of additional gel.
Since electrophoretic studies are often made at high voltages, it is desirable that the electrodes, buffer solutions, etc. are protected from inadvertent user contact during the periods that the studies are being conducted. A cover 71 is provided to enclose the interior of the cell 11 during such studies. The cover has a top component 72 which may itself be of clear plastic and a downwardly depending latch segment 73. At the opposite edge a guard piece 74 that extends downwardly has an opening 76 that is shaped for engagement about a power plug extension 77. When the cover 71 is in the engaged or closed position, only the prongs 23 and 24 of the power connector will be exposed. A power cord plug 28, which is of size larger than the size of the opening 76, can then be engaged to the prongs 23 and 24. With this arrangement it is necessary for the operator or technician to disengage the plug 28 before the cover 71 can be removed. Objects and fingers, etc. are thus prevented from contacting any of the charged components during periods of use.
1. Apparatus useful in connection with electrophoresis studies comprising an upwardly opening cell structure having liquid-tight end and side walls, a liquid-tight intermediate wall for said cell structure dividing a lower portion of the cell structure into separate receptacles adapted to receive an electrolyte-buffer solution, separate electrodes in each of said receptacles in position for contact with said buffer solution, support partitions that are of operative height greater than the height for said intermediate wall for disposition in each of said receptacles, a carrier structure having a specimen receiving surface on a lower or inverted face of said carrier disposed for support by and extension between the support partitions in the separate receptacles, said specimen receiving surface accordingly being disposed across and above said intermediate wall, said carrier structure further having edge elements extending downwardly at all sides of said specimen receiving surface for the protection of said specimen receiving surface and said support partitions providing slots for the accommodation of said downwardly extending edge elements, wick elements of a type to be wetted by the buffer solution on each of said support partitions and in wetted contact with the buffer solution and the specimen receiving surface of said carrier whereby electrical current may be delivered to the specimen receiving surface, and a power source for selective connection to said electrodes to provide said electric current.
2. The apparatus as set forth in claim 1 and further comprising a cover for enclosing all of said upwardly opening cell structures and the contents thereof, and an extension on said cover interposed intermediate said power source and electrodes whereby the power source is disconnected and power to said apparatus is interrupted when the cover is removed.
3. The apparatus as set forth in claim 2 wherein said cover engages the end and side walls of said cell structure and said extension is positioned along one of said walls with said extension providing an opening through which the electrodes extend.
4. The apparatus as set forth in claim 3 wherein said electrodes are surrounded by the opening in said cover extension and wherein power is provided by an electrical outlet plug adapted for selective interconnection to said electrodes and of size greater than the size of said cover extension opening.
5. The apparatus as set forth in claim 1 wherein the walls of said cell structure provide multiple sockets for the selective reception of said support partitions whereby carrier structures of varied size may be utilized.
6. The apparatus as set forth in claim 1 and further comprising pockets on said support partitions at positions beneath the level for buffer solution, said pockets being adapted to receive said wick elements for holding the wicks in close contact with said support partitions whereby an additional capillary action is established for the delivery of additional solution to the specimen surface.
7. The apparatus as set forth in claim 1 wherein the carrier structure inclusive of the depending edge elements is the lid component of a container and further comprising a bottom for selective specimen preserving mating and enclosing engagement with said carrier lid.
8. The apparatus as set forth in claim 7 and further comprising separable hinge and fastener components for said container whereby the carrier lid alone can be used in said cell structure as the specimen supporting 5 menis-