College of American Pathologists
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  Chemistry analyzers fitting for low-volume labs


CAP Today




October 2010
Feature Story

Brendan Dabkowski

Practitioners of yoga stretch their minds and bodies with calculated grace, through a blend of contemplation and poses. Perhaps chief among yoga’s many benefits is flexibility, as elasticity of thought and limb—ideally, at least—makes it easier to weather the storm of life with poise and control.

For the makers of chemistry and immunoassay analyzers for low-volume laboratories and the point of care—the focus of this month’s product guide—offering instruments that fuse flexibility with ease of use, speed, and accuracy enables their customers to confront more gracefully everyday challenges in the lab or at the bedside.

One such instrument is Awareness Technology’s ChemWell-T compact automatic chemistry analyzer, which the company previewed in July during the American Association for Clinical Chemistry’s Clinical Lab Expo. Designed for low-throughput laboratories, the ChemWell-T is a “true open system that lets the user choose any reagent, bottle, and tube manufacturer,” says Rob Guerin, marketing and international sales manager. The analyzer has turbidimetric assay capability as well as a universal rack configuration—for reagent containers, controls, and calibrators—that allow users to tailor the instrument to specific workloads by selecting from removable, interchangeable rack sectors.

Other companies in this year’s lineup have focused on expanding their test menus. Abaxis in February added a C-reactive protein assay to the menu of its POC Piccolo Xpress clinical chemistry analyzer, which has 11 complete CLIA-waived panels and has been available since early 2007, says director of marketing Rick Betts. The Piccolo MetLyte Plus CRP panel, for acute-care facilities, tests for C-reactive protein, chloride, creatinine kinase, creatinine, glucose, potassium, sodium, total carbon dioxide, and blood urea nitrogen. Also throwing its hat into the ring of the C-reactive protein test market is Alfa Wasserman Diagnostic Technologies, which is developing a high-sensitivity CRP assay for its Ace Alera clinical chemistry system. The company is also developing for the Ace Alera a next-generation HbA1c assay that is “capable of meeting more stringent FDA requirements to allow for the diagnosis of diabetes,” says Trip Trepagnier, vice president of marketing and business development. Looking to the future, Trepagnier cites connectivity as an important design factor for low-volume and POC analyzers: “As EHRs become more prevalent among physicians, we expect to see increasing importance of analyzer connectivity.”

Roche Diagnostics, too, is broadening its selection of assays: It recently added Amphetamines II and Triglycerides/glycerol blank tests to the menu of the Cobas c 311 chemistry analyzer. In addition to the Cobas c 311 system, Roche continues to market the Cobas Integra 400 Plus analyzer as well as the Cardiac 200 lateral flow immunoassay rapid testing system, which was introduced last year. Jim Dodds, marketing manager for the Cardiac 200 and cardiac chemistry reagents, says the Cobas c 311 is a prime example of the kind of system that is growing in demand, and it has the same reagents and interface as the company’s mid-volume Cobas 6000 analyzer series. Similar user interfaces and interchangeability of reagents among analyzers reduces complexity, says Dodds, adding that standardization and ease of use are becoming more important as the lab labor pool shrinks and integrated health care networks grow.

Finally, remaining available from Nova Biomedical is the Critical Care Xpress analyzer, which measures sodium, potassium, chloride, glucose, blood urea nitrogen, and creatinine. It accepts serum, plasma, and whole blood samples and provides test results in less than two minutes, says marketing specialist Rick Rollins.

CAP TODAY’s guide to chemistry and immunoassay analyzers for low-volume labs and the point of care includes products from the aforementioned manufacturers and from Abbott Point of Care, AMS Diagnostics, Beckman Coulter, Carolina Liquid Chemistries, Horiba Medical, 3M, Medica Corp., Nova Biomedical, Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics, Polymedco, Randox Laboratories, SDI Biomed, Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics, and Vital Diagnostics. Companies supplied the information listed. Readers interested in a particular system should confirm it has the stated features and capabilities.

Brendan Dabkowski is CAP TODAY associate editor.

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