Reducing complexity is fundamental to boosting operational efficiency. For manufacturers of chemistry analyzers for low-volume laboratories, this means adding features that streamline workflow, consolidate testing, or automate steps, making their instruments intuitive and easy to use.
“One of the most pressing requirements for the future lab is reducing the costs of laboratory operations without compromising the speed or reliability of test results,” says Awareness Technology president Mary Freeman. And with that in mind, says Bruno Borganti, vice president of North America operations at AMS Diagnostics, “Customers are asking for systems that are reliable, easy to use, precise, and accurate, at significantly reduced running costs.” The companies detailed in this month’s guide to chemistry analyzers for low-volume laboratories aim to make good on their customers’ requests by delivering instruments that are productive, accurate, simple to operate, and cost-effective.
One such new analyzer is Roche Diagnostics’ Cardiac 200 lateral flow immunoassay testing system. The analyzer is designed to provide quantitative cardiac marker test results on whole blood samples, with a turnaround time of 10 to 19 minutes, says Jim Dodds, Roche marketing manager for the Cardiac 200 and cardiac chemistry reagents. Introduced in April, the system can process up to 36 tests per hour and offers a full cardiac marker test menu that includes NT-proBNP, troponin I, CK-MB, and myoglobin. Also new this year from Roche: the Cobas c 311 chemistry analyzer, a standalone chemistry solution that has stat assay capability and the same reagents and user interface as the company’s mid-volume Cobas 6000 series of chemistry analyzers.
AMS Diagnostics released this past summer the Liasys 330 clinical chemistry system, a fully automated random-access, continuous-loading benchtop analyzer that performs up to 330 tests per hour (200 chemistry and 130 ion-selective electrodes). The instrument has an intuitive “at-a-glance” graphical user interface that provides a continuous snapshot of the analyzer’s status and operations. The 330 holds 60 durable cuvettes positioned on a high-capacity reaction wheel. On deck for 2010 at AMS is the Liasys 450 clinical chemistry system, a model that Borganti says, “will achieve up to 450 tests per hour with the same ease of use, QC-monitored washing reaction cuvette system, and reduced running costs” as the Liasys 330.
Awareness Technology introduced in late 2008 the Stat Fax 4500 chemistry system. Compared with its predecessor, the Stat Fax 1904 chemistry analyzer, the 4500 is more economical, says marketing support specialist Joe Neal. The 4500 has updated firmware with more curve-fitting calculations, a touchscreen, mouse interface, and optional flow cell. “We put it all into a smaller, lighter package, which also saves on shipping costs, and then held the line on the price,” he says. The Stat Fax 4500 costs the same as the Stat Fax 1904. The company plans to release a new 100-test-per-hour, fully automated compact analyzer by May 2010.
Randox Laboratories in 2005 released the Rx Daytona, a compact, fully automated benchtop clinical chemistry analyzer. The instrument is ideal for low-volume testing, says Rx series product specialist Nigel McKelvey. It has an extensive test menu that includes routine parameters and specialized analytes such as apolipoproteins, Lp(a), direct sLDL, and cystatin C. The direct sLDL and cystatin C kits were added this year.
At Vital Diagnostics, the latest offering is a direct A1c test on the company’s Envoy 500 chemistry analyzer, which performs up to 570 tests per hour. The test eliminates sample pretreatment, which saves customers time, says director of U.S. chemistry marketing Mark Moran. At the American Association for Clinical Chemistry annual meeting in July, the company previewed its Eon line of benchtop chemistry analyzers. The Eon 100 and 300 are scheduled to debut in early 2010, he says.
Carolina Liquid Chemistries has added a direct, no pre-treat HbA1c test to the menu of its BioLis 24i benchtop chemistry analyzer, says Patricia A. Shugart, the company’s vice president of sales and marketing. The analyzer uses a small water system instead of cubes of water, which require that detergent be added to them to clean reaction cuvettes. This eliminates shipping costs and storage space associated with water cubes, she says. The system performs about 100 types of tests—including direct TIBC, IgG, and IgM—and can be used as a drugs-of-abuse, specialty, or stat laboratory instrument.
At Beckman Coulter, the newest offering for low-volume labs is the AU480 random-access chemistry analyzer, which can run up to 800 tests per hour with a reagent capacity of 76 onboard cartridges.
The Binding Site’s product manager of serum proteins, Maureen Zetlmeisl, says low-volume analyzers “are getting smaller and more specialized, catering to a niche marketplace.” One example of such an instrument is The Binding Site’s Serum Protein Analyzer Plus (SPAplus) Premium, which will hit the market in early 2010. Based on the Serum Protein Analyzer Plus, the Premium version has been designed to “further optimize efficiency by using reduced sample and reagent volumes,” Zetlmeisl says.
Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics has added sirolimus and myeloperoxidase assays to the test menu of its Dimension Xpand Plus integrated chemistry system. New productivity features for the analyzer include enhanced data management capability, automated calibration, and control processes.
Finally, new from 3M this year is the Rapid Detection Reader. The small automated reader is for objective reading of results and has multiple error-checking and self-diagnostic functions
CAP TODAY’s guide to chemistry analyzers for low-volume labs includes products from the aforementioned manufacturers and from Abaxis, Abbott Point of Care, Alfa Wassermann, Horiba ABX, Medica Corp., Nova Biomedical, Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics, Polymedco, and SDI Biomed. Companies supplied the information listed. Readers interested in a particular product should confirm it has the stated features and capabilities.
Brendan Dabkowski is CAP TODAY associate editor.