Pittcon highlights the latest lab science innovations

1st April 2013

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Pittcon is the world's premier conference and exposition on laboratory science and 2011 was no different in terms of the number of new technologies being launched. Sean Ottewell looks at the show highlights.

Thermo Fisher Scientific reinforced its long-term commitment to innovation by showcasing best-in-class instruments, consumables, software and services that drive advancements in global health, environmental and safety applications.

"With the growing number of complex analytical challenges our customers are facing around the world, there has never been a better time to invest in innovation," said Marc N Casper, president and chief executive officer.

Highlighting new developments in Thermo Scientific analytical instrumentation and laboratory informatics, Casper said, "Advancements in proteomics research, made possible in large part by our leading life sciences mass spectrometry technologies, are enabling new breakthroughs in the understanding and treatment of disease."

For example, using the LTQ Orbitrap Velos and the TSQ Vantage systems, researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital are performing critical tests for stroke patients, providing an increased understanding of the role biomarkers play in preventing and treating the disease.

New at Pittcon this year was ExactFinder software, used with the company's Exactive liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) system, powered by Orbitrap technology. This powerful combination of software and instrumentation offers clinical researchers a streamlined data processing, review and reporting workflow for screening results with confidence and easy quantitation.

Before the introduction of ExactFinder software, laboratories relied on multiple mass spectrometers and data processing systems to perform targeted and unknown screening.

The company also focused on consumer safety, highlighting the recent dioxin crisis in Europe when 3000 tonnes of animal feed was contaminated. Researchers turned to a method developed by Thermo Fisher for screening these persistent organic pollutants (POPs).

By combining Thermo Scientific application kits, consisting of columns, consumables and methods, with TSQ Quantum XLS triple quadrupole and DFS high-resolution gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) systems, the rate of low-level dioxin detection increased significantly.

A new persistent organic pollutants (POP) workflow featured at Pittcon also includes Thermo Fisher's TargetQuan software, designed specifically for large-scale data processing. To further facilitate the flow of data, TargetQuan integrates with the company's leading SampleManager laboratory information management system (LIMS) platform.

And the latest version of this features of the new system include key business metric (KBM) dashboard functionality, an intuitive user interface and a workflow for laboratories looking to standardise operating processes and streamline data exchange across their global enterprise (Fig. 1).

During Pittcon, Thermo Fisher also featured its diverse line of Thermo Scientific handheld and portable analytical instruments, serving applications ranging from airport security and consumer product testing to supply chain integrity and industrial hygiene. For example, the Niton FXL field X-ray analyser is the newest addition to its leading offering of X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analysers.

ITT announced that its SI Analytics brand has launched the TitroLine titrator series for advanced titration and dosing applications. This series completes SI Analytics' offering of automatic titrators and includes the TitroLine 6000, TitroLine 7000 and TITRONIC 500 piston burette. The family of instruments combines accuracy and ease-of-use to create solutions that offer unmatched flexibility and reliability for content analysis in various samples.

The SI Analytics TitroLine titrators from ITT Analytics offer a wide spectrum of capabilities for a variety of applications across the water and wastewater, environmental, food and beverage, pharmaceutical and chemical industries. Compact in design, the TitroLine 6000 (Fig. 2) and TitroLine 7000 titrators feature a new PC-based user interface, offering unparalleled ease-of-use and eliminating the need for extensive training. High-throughput is also ensured as a result of the instruments' feature to automatically recognise both the dispensing module and reagent data, optimising productivity. In addition, the easy-to-read display tracks titration curve and data.

As well as the capabilities offered by the TitroLine 6000, the TitroLine 7000 titrator provides users with the ability to undertake perchloric acid titrations and other complex non-aqueous titrations, while allowing easy generation of up to 50 user-defined methods. The system enables wireless electrode recognition of SCHOTT ID electrodes which ensures accurate calibrations and measurements.

For its part, the TITRONIC 500 offers a precise and easy alternative to bottletop and classical glass burettes. Operation is simple as the reagent is filled automatically and the easy-to-read display clearly shows the amounts used for titration. The TITRONIC 500 also allows users to perform dosing operations quickly while conducting manual titrations with ease, ensuring that measurement is trouble-free and reliable.

Among many other innovations, Waters Corporation unveiled three new ACQUITY UPLC systems, further extending the impact of sub-two micron separation technology to address targeted analytical challenges. The addition of the ACQUITY UltraPerformance supercritical fluid chromatography (UPSFC) System, the ACQUITY UPLC System with 2D technology, and the Patrol UPLC Laboratory Analyser further reinforces the innovative dominance of Waters' family of ACQUITY UPLC solutions in separation science.

"While other companies strive to replicate Waters fundamental ACQUITY UPLC technology, we continue to work with our customers on extending UPLC's reach into more applications throughout the product development and manufacturing process," said Art Caputo, president of the Waters Division.

The Waters ACQUITY UPSFC System is a holistically designed analytical system combining the advantages of sub-2-micron particle technology and the efficiency of SFC. Built on proven Waters UPLC technology, this new system offers up to 10x shorter run times, reduces solvent usage by as much as 95 per cent, and cuts the cost of analyses by as much as 99 per cent while giving laboratories a greener alternative to normal phase chromatography for chiral and achiral separations.

Waters ACQUITY UPSFC System enables scientists to conduct normal phase chromatographic separations using carbon dioxide as the primary mobile phase rather than expensive and toxic solvents saving laboratories tens of thousands of dollars over the lifetime of an instrument. The newest member of Waters family of ACQUITY systems, the Waters ACQUITY UPSFC System offers laboratories significant advantages over traditional HPLC for routine UPSFC separations in research or regulated laboratories across many industries, says the company.

Quality assurance

ABB took the opportunity to introduce its Horizon MB Software Suite. This provides consistent, repeatable results and simplified quality assurance. It is ideal for petroleum, chemical, life sciences, semiconductor industries, and academic and research operations. When combined with ABB's innovative MB3000 series FT-IR spectrometers, it provides a solid foundation for high quality product development and manufacture.

Horizon MB FTIR streamlines quality assurance and quality control (QA/QC) applications for laboratory staff by providing intuitive workflow along with integrated spectrometer and accessory control. This software guides the user through every step of the process, from collecting reference data to designing QA/QC applications to deployment of turnkey methods. It also provides support for customised messages in any language. The analysis features for laboratory or at-line QA/QC were designed in collaboration with ABB's customers. Horizon MB FT-NIR software offers all the features required to perform routine qualitative and quantitative material analysis. It ensures precise and repeatable results, with an easy to use and understand operator interface as well as CFR21 part 11 compliance.

This suite includes Horizon MB FTIR v3.1 and Horizon MB QA. Horizon MB QA works with ABB's MB3000 or MB3600 spectrometers; this combination provides a complete solution for all laboratory QA/QC needs. It includes a sample analysis function that helps plant and laboratory operators to quickly obtain accurate and repeatable results; this consistency is especially important when multiple plants needs to analyse samples consistently.

Horizon MB FTIR v3.1 includes an improved Horizon Quantify chemometric module and a new IR Interpretation module for easy identification of functional groups.

Designed for the MB3000 series, the Horizon MB Software Suite includes smart accessory control for accessories like the new ABB universal vial holder and advanced instrument health monitoring. This allows users to automate features such as temperature monitoring and temperature control.

New sample prep products

Pall Life Sciences used Pittcon to present its suite of advanced filtration products to optimise laboratory processes. This includes AcroPrep advance filter plates, which provide high performance membranes in an optimised filter plate configuration for diagnostic, genomic and protein applications.

New sealing technology and advanced tip design result in faster, uniform filtration rates, improving well-to-well, plate-to-plate and lot-to-lot consistency.

Also featured was the company's new Microsep Advance and Macrosep Advance ultrafiltration centrifugal devices that simplify many common nucleic acid and protein handling procedures, facilitating higher volumes of pure product and high recovery rates of up to 90 per cent. Ultrafiltration reduces the amount of handling that can cause damage to samples, leaving concentrated samples ready for direct incorporation into downstream applications at critical stages in the discovery process.

Pall's microfiltration centrifugal devices are used in separation and small-scale general filtration procedures, and can be combined with chromatography resins to create a fast, efficient method for purifying proteins. Also on show was the high performance Acrodisc PSF syringe filters that expedite automated sample processing and clarification.

The automation-certified Acrodisc filter is more retentive than standard 25 mm devices and is available with single-layered membranes or multi-layered glass fibre prefilters. Engineered for retention efficiency, Acrodisc PSF syringe filters with GHP membrane extend column life by as much as 46 times and provide two to four times the throughput of standard glass fibre prefilter devices.

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