Issue Date: April 4, 2011
New And Notable At Pittcon: Lab Optimization
Workflow optimization has become a major focus for instrument makers in recent years in an effort to reduce the amount of time researchers spend on developing methods and carrying out analyses so that they can spend more time on actual research. Several new lab optimization products were exhibited at Pittcon 2011.
(6) Shimadzu in partnership with Perfinity Biosciences showcased the Perfinity Workstation, a multicolumn automated protein sample preparation and characterization system that enables users to start with blood serum and have peptides ready for LC/MS analysis in as little as 10 minutes. The instrument combines Perfinity Biosciences’ sample preparation columns with Shimadzu’s LC and MS offerings. Each column performs a step of the sample preparation process: affinity selection via antibody/biotin-avidin tagging, buffer exchange, trypsin protein digestion, desalting, and reverse-phase peptide separation. The main advantage of Perfinity’s method is that users are not required to immobilize antibodies; scientists instead add antibodies directly to the sample. Most of the time savings comes from the column-based protein digestion, which cuts proteolysis time from about 24 hours to about four minutes. The workstation is designed for assay development, protein purification, drug development, and biomarker discovery.
(7) Mettler Toledo introduced the Flash DSC 1, a new generation of differential scanning calorimeter for thermal analysis of materials. The instrument’s novel feature is its extremely high cooling (4,000 °C per second) and heating (40,000 °C per second) rates over the temperature range of –95 to 450 °C in a single measurement. Scientists and process engineers have struggled using conventional DSC instruments to study the behavior of materials as they rapidly cool in high-speed production processes and are then heated for repeat testing. The Flash DSC 1 now makes it possible to investigate metastable phases and time-dependent reorganization processes of materials such as injection-molded polymers and pharmaceutical polymorphs. The user places nano- to microgram amounts of sample on a ceramic microelectromechanical chip, which contains 16 thermocouples with electrical circuitry. Multiple particles of material can be examined on one chip, and the chip can be used to take measurements, such as X-ray diffraction, on other instruments. The chip also can be used for simulated aging tests using heat or UV light and archived for later reanalysis.
Waters presented the Biopharmaceutical System Solution, which unites LC/MS analysis of intact proteins and peptides with the company’s new Unifi Scientific Information System bioinformatics software. The system includes Waters’ Acquity UPLC H-Class Bio chromatograph, peptide and protein separation technology columns, Xevo G2 Tof mass spectrometer, and the customizable Unifi software. Unifi ties the whole system together, including worker training, instrument control, advanced data processing and data mining, and information reporting compatible with biopharmaceutical industry manufacturing quality guidelines and regulations. With the software, these operations can be routinely deployed throughout an organization. For example, it will permit labs to acquire, process, and share LC/MS characterization data of a biotherapeutic drug throughout its life cycle, from discovery to development to production quality control. This capability is becoming more important as drug companies continue to develop large-molecule biopharmaceuticals and fewer small-molecule drugs.
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