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By Agnes Shanley, Bill Swichtenberg and Heidi Parsons
Pharma may be only one of many industries addressed by the Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy, but this year’s Pittcon, held in a snowy and blustery Chicago last month, provided a feast for any lover of process analytics. Instruments introduced at the show are tackling some of pharma’s biggest technical challenges, from analyzing large, complex biomolecules to characterizing raw material quality outside of the lab.
|Waters Corp.'s Synapt High Definition Mass Spectrometer took the Gold Award in this year's Pittcon Editors' Awards competition.|
Also emphasizing user friendliness, and permitting “parallel processing” in the lab are Dionex Corp.’s (Sunnyvale, Calif., www1.dionex.com/en-us/lp47713.html) Ultimate Intelligent LC systems, designed to allow users to automate different liquid chromatography (LC) methods on a single system.
Proprietary solutions are also disappearing, and competitors are working on interconnectable solutions. At Pittcon, Waters Corp. (Milford, Mass., www.waters.com) and Shimadzu Scientific Instruments (Columbia, Md.; www.ssi.shimadzu.com) disclosed that they will jointly develop software, based on Waters’ Empower chromatography software, that will control Shimadzu’s Prominence liquid chromatography (LC) systems. Waters has similar alliances with Hitachi and Agilent.
Maintenance is also crossing vendor boundaries, as more vendors offer cross-vendor service outsourcing. PerkinElmer, through its OneSource model, provides computerized diagnostic equipment and detailed instrument information specific to the year of instrument manufacture, model and serial number to provide preventative maintenance on all analytical instruments, regardless of manufacturer. “The end result is convenience and cost savings,” says Wells. Agilent (www.chem.agilent.com ) offers a similar program, and expects demand for such services to grow by 40% per year.
Entering the fray at Pittcon 2007 was Beckman Coulter (www.beckmancoulter.com), which introduced its SiteMAX asset management solutions, a comprehensive instrument maintenance and service program. With the program, Beckman Coulter assumes service ownership and maintenance expense risk for customers’ laboratory equipment while providing guaranteed cost reductions.
|Pittcon Editors gave Paraytec's ActiPix capillary-based UV absorbance detector a Silver Award.|
One focus at the show was analytics designed to detect subtle changes in complex proteins and other biomolecules. Many of these systems are based on mass spectroscopy.
Shimadzu introduced AXIMA-TOF2 high-performance MALDI TOF-TOF mass spectrometer, and showcased new software for its MS systems, notably a Formula Predictor designed for its LCMS-IT-TOF mass spectrometer, which uses multiple levels of fragmentation, isotope pattern verification, and fragment-ion filtering techniques to accurately determine the correct formula for unknown components; its GCMSsolution 2.5 software, featuring an Automatic Adjustment of Retention Time (AART) function that saves considerable time during analysis preparation.
MS also took first place in Pittcon’s Editors’ Award for best product this year. Winning the Gold was Waters’ Synapt High Definition Mass Spectrometer (HDMS) (for more on this, including access to a video demo and a brief interview with company founder Jim Waters, click here).
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