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Inside Instrumentation

Technology and Business news for the laboratory world

by Celia H. Arnaud and Ann M. Thayer
October 27, 2008 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 86, Issue 43

Partners Introduce New Mass Specs

Joint-venture partners Applied Biosystems and MDS Analytical Technologies have unveiled two new mass spectrometry systems. The AB SCIEX Triple Quad 5500 and AB SCIEX QTRAP 5500 systems incorporate new electronics, ion optics, and other newly designed components in a package that has a 44% smaller footprint than their predecessors. Both systems include eQ Electronics and a new pulse-counting detector called AcQuRate. In addition, the QTRAP 5500 includes a Linear Accelerator Trap. Users of the QTRAP 5500 can switch between triple-quadrupole scans and full-scan ion-trap scans in less than a millisecond. The companies are targeting drug discovery, protein biomarker, and food-testing applications.

Flow Reactors Gain In Academia

ThalesNano, in Budapest, Hungary, says it has signed agreements with research groups at Scripps Research Institute; the University of California, San Francisco; Boston University; Temple University; and the University of Texas, Arlington, to use its H-Cube hydrogenation reactor. According to the company, the benchtop system combines flow chemistry, endogenous hydrogen generation, and disposable catalyst cartridges for safely conducting high-pressure, high-temperature reactions. Such tools, university scientists note, can have a dramatic impact on the type of research that can now routinely be done in academic labs.

GE Healthcare Buys MicroCal

GE Healthcare, part of General Electric, has acquired MicroCal, a Northampton, Mass.-based developer of microcalorimeters, primarily for use in the life sciences. In 1997, University of Massachusetts chemistry professor John Brandts founded the company, which today has estimated annual revenues of about $28 million and has been growing by 25% per year. GE says the acquisition will allow it to expand its technology offerings in protein science and drug discovery research. Private equity firm Riverside Partners had been a majority owner of MicroCal since 1999. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Millipore Launches New Water System

Millipore has announced the Elix Advantage water purification system. The modular system, which features Millipore’s electrodeionization technology, can be integrated into lab benches or mounted on the wall. Up to three water dispensers can be connected per system. They can be used for manual and volumetric dispensing at flow rates as fast as 2 L per minute. The system is designed to meet or exceed a number of standards, including those described by ISO 3696; ASTM D1193; and the U.S., European, and Japanese Pharmacopeias.

Biotage Sells Its Biosystems Unit

Sweden’s Biotage has sold its Biosystems division to Qiagen, in the Netherlands, for $53 million. The purchase includes a 17.5% stake in Corbett Life Science, the Australian parent of four biotech operations that make and sell life sciences instrumentation. Biotage’s Biosystems division had sales of about $14 million in 2007, centered on its Pyrosequencing technology and the PyroMark real-time sequencing detection system. Qiagen intends to offer jobs to all Biosystems employees. Meanwhile, Biotage will focus on its discovery chemistry business, which offers purification, analysis, and reaction-screening systems.

Companies, Governments Tackle Melamine Analysis

Credit: Shutterstock
Credit: Shutterstock

In the wake of the recent melamine scare in China, three companies are independently developing new methods to detect the compound in dairy products. Agilent Technologies has created a four-day training program covering melamine-testing methods with gas chromatography or liquid chromatography combined with mass spectrometry. The program will be offered at Agilent training centers and customer sites in China. Earlier this year, Thermo Fisher Scientific published an application note on LC/MS analysis of melamine and cyanuric acid in food using the company’s TSQ Quantum triple-quadrupole system. Waters reported a method that combines its Acquity UltraPerformance LC with tandem-quadrupole MS to detect melamine at 1 mg/kg.

Celia H. Arnaud and Ann M. Thayer write Inside Instrumentation. Contact them via e-mail to


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