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Diving into drug testing

AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2012 VOL.23 NO.3 PP247345/00002

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Printed and bound by Pegasus +61 2 8822 0716 Print Post Approved PP247345/00002 ISSN No. 1448-1065 All material published in this magazine is published in good faith and every care is taken to accurately relay information provided to us. Readers are advised by the publishers to ensure that all necessary safety devices and precautions are installed and safe working procedures adopted before the use of any equipment found or purchased through the information we provide. Further, all performance criteria was provided by the representative company concerned and any dispute should be referred to them. Information indicating that products are made in Australia or New Zealand is supplied by the source company. Westwick-Farrow Pty Ltd does not quantify the amount of local content or the accuracy of the statement made by the source.


editor’s note

© Zoran Milic

A.B.N. 22 152 305 336

Free for all (but it isn’t) In Australia the vast majority of published research is publically funded and it stands to reason, that if the public is funding the research they should have access to it. But this is not the case. By far the majority of scholarly articles are published in journals that are only available via paid subscription. Interestingly these journals do not pay the contributors for their work; the contributors are just expected to be grateful that the journal has accepted their article for inclusion. The only way interested members of the public can read the articles is if they subscribe to the journal or through a library which has subscribed. So the journals are making their money selling content for which they did not pay. The money involved is not small bickies – last year the Dutch publisher Reed Elsevier, pocketed a rather handy $AU9 billion! This nifty system worked well through the 19th and 20th centuries but the advent of the internet has dramatically changed the playing field. Publishing online is inexpensive and readers now expect access to the roughly two million articles that are produced internationally each year. They also expect to be able to use online tools and services to search, organise, analyse and manipulate the information. And as the research that is being reported has by and large, been paid for by the public purse, many feel that this is not an unreasonable expectation. Indeed many instrumentalities now demand that material published under their aegis be publically available. In Australia, the National Health and Medical Council (NHMRC) has recently changed to its policy on the dissemination of research findings. Since July 1 this year, the NHMRC has required that any publications arising from an NHMRC supported research project be deposited into an open access institutional repository within a 12 month period from the date of publication. This policy allows authors to have their articles published in the high impact factor, peer reviewed journals that earn their institutions Brownie points but also ensures that the work will eventually be available to all. But is this delayed access good enough? There are two accepted modes of ‘open access’ – green and gold. • Green – authors publish in any journal and then self-archive a version of the article for free public use in their institutional repository, in a central repository (such as PubMed Central), or on some other open access website. High-energy physicists have been selfarchiving centrally in arXiv since 1991. • Gold – authors publish in an open access journal that provides immediate access to all of its articles on the publisher’s website such as BioMed Central or the Public Library of Science. Consensus is that ‘Gold’ is the preferable system but there are many concerns about how the publishing industry and researchers can transition to this mode. Many consider that Green open access could provide an interim stage that will facilitate the move to a truly, real-time open access system. A very interesting read on this topic is the UK’s Finch report – wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Finch-Group-report-FINAL-VERSION.pdf. Follow this up with a quick cruise on the internet. There is only one conclusion: open access is coming. We are only left with the questions as to how to implement and who should bear any costs.

WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - August/September 2012

Janette Woodhouse Chief Editor What’s New in Lab & Life Sciences

© Berc

Catching the drug cheats 6

WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - August/September 2012

Janette Woodhouse 31 July, 2012

Rams testicles gave athletes in ancient Greece a testosterone boost, 1896 Paris-to-Bordeaux cyclists combined heroin and cocaine in a speedball, sprinters at the Berlin Olympics experimented with nitroglycerine in an effort to dilate their coronary arteries … athletes have been experimenting with performance-enhancing drugs and techniques for a long time.


ut the scale and the sophistication of doping have escalated dramatically since the 1950s. The advent of human growth hormone (HGH) becoming available and Ciba Pharmaceutical commercialising the oral anabolic steroid methandrostenolone opened a whole new era of athlete doping. In 1964, the Tokyo Olympics became known as the ‘Steroid Olympics’ and it became obvious that a banned substance list and drug testing of athletes were needed if an Olympic Gold Medal was to have any credibility. Ultimately, this lead to the formation of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) - an international, independent, collaborative worldwide campaign for doping-free sport. WADA monitors the anti-doping efforts at the Olympics and has updated the official list of prohibited drugs each year since 2004. Some, like caffeine, have been removed from the list over time, with more added in nine categories, including anabolic agents, stimulants and growth hormones. Alcohol is prohibited for a few of the more dangerous sports, including archery. However, the effectiveness of the fight against doping depends on the ability of anti-doping laboratories to reliably identify athletes who are using performance-enhancing drugs or methods. To this end, WADA has an accreditation process based on ISO/IEC 17025 and the International Standard for Laboratories. To be WADA-accredited, laboratories must undergo a series of rigorous tests to establish their analysis credentials. As-

sessments focus on the facility, equipment, procedures and staffing during three formal inspections and dummy sample testing. After accreditation, WADA’s External Quality Assessment Scheme evaluates laboratory competency through a continuous assessment of performance and provides laboratories with opportunities to compare their results, with the aim being to enhance harmonisation of test results among accredited laboratories. There are currently 33 laboratories around the world accredited to conduct human doping control sample analyses. The Australian Sports Drug Testing Laboratory housed with the National Measurement Institute in North Ryde and headed by Dr Catrin Goebel is Australia’s only WADA accredited facility. In the six months prior to 19 July, WADA-accredited laboratories conducted at least 71,649 tests on samples from potential summer Olympic athletes. As a result, at least 107 athletes received sanctions that made them ineligible to participate in the London Games.

Modern trends in athlete doping The days of athletes doping with ‘designer drugs’ such as tetrahydrogestrinone (also known as THG or The Clear and the main drug in the Balco scandal) are nearly over because such drugs are now so easy to detect. The use of medicines that are under development by pharmaceutical companies is also now more difficult because the companies have agreed to provide WADA

WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - August/September 2012


The London Olympics


access to their confidential information about their developmental products that could be abused by athletes. For example, in 2008, Roche Holding worked with Wada to develop tests for its drug CERA, an erythropoietin that boosts red blood cell count and oxygen uptake. Testing following the Beijing Games resulted in six athletes testing positive for CERA. Athletes are now more likely to dope with drugs which mimic or are naturally produced in the body. The ‘big three’ are erythropoietin (EPO), human growth hormone and testosterone. This requires a whole new level of testing for laboratories as these products are naturally occurring in the body and a simple ‘there’ or ‘not there’ test is inadequate. A new approach has been developed whereby, rather than looking for actual doping agents, samples are screened for a range of haematological, steroid profile and endocrine markers. Athletes are tested over a period of time and longitudinal profiles of each individual established the ‘Athlete Biological Passport’ (ABP). Any abnormal variations in the individual’s profile can indicate the use of prohibited substances or methods.

Athlete Biological Passport The ABP is already proving to be a deterrent - data from the Union Cycliste Internationale show a significant decrease in the number of blood samples with extreme values for % reticulocytes since the passport scheme was introduced in 2008. Reticulocyte production can be stimulated (extreme high % retics) after recent EPO use, or suppressed (extreme low % retics) after a blood transfusion. Stage-times in the recent Tours de France are slower in recent years than in the years before the ABP came in, suggesting a change in behaviour regarding doping in the elite cyclist population. The Portuguese long-distance runner, Hélder Ornelas, was the first athlete whose APB was used as sole evidence in support of an anti-doping rule violation. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has been collecting a significant number of blood samples


© Christopher Conrad


throughout 2012 in the lead-up to the London Games, and 200 more ABP tests will be conducted at the Olympic Village in London. In the lead-up to the London Olympics, nine track-and-field athletes were caught doping, based on their ABPs. In the ABP, haematological screening blood variables that could be indicative of the use of EPO or related substances are measured. These include: • Red blood cell (erythrocyte) count • Mean corpuscular volume • Haematocrit • Haemoglobin • Mean corpuscular haemoglobin • Mean corpuscular haemoglobin concentration • White blood cell (leukocyte) count • Platelet (thrombocyte) count • Reticulocytes percentage Abnormal variations observed are referred to scientific and medical experts who will give an opinion as to whether these variations could be the result of doping or not. The endocrine module could prove to be even more promising in the fight against doping, with key biomarkers creating an athlete’s individual ABP ‘fingerprints’.

WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - August/September 2012

At the London Olympic Games, athletes will undergo the most sophisticated testing program yet devised, with individual tests for substances such as erythropoietin (EPO) and human growth hormone, and combined tests for other banned products. The pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has provided a £20 million state-of-the-art laboratory in Harlow, Essex, a short distance from the Olympic Park. Here, King’s College London will operate the facility in coordination with the Olympic Committee and International Paralympic Committee. The 400 m 2 laboratory is fully equipped and can be used to reliably check for more than 240 prohibited substances and give negative results in less than 24 hours. It will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week during the Olympic and Paralympic Games. A team of 150 scientists from all over the world will staff the WADAaccredited facility. About 6250 samples will be assayed during the Games, which is the highest amount ever at an Olympic and Paralympics event. Most tests will be on urine but at least 10% will be blood-based. The laboratory will provide results for most of the tests within 24 to 48 hours. For a few tests, such as on enduranceboosting drug EPO, longer time will be required (up to 72 hours) to get the results. The turnaround time of a negative result will be 24 hours. Urine samples will be split in two - A and B. Part of sample A will be prepared for testing and the rest securely stored. It will be screened for more than 60 prohibitive substances in just one test. The initial result of a test (sample A) will be available in just 12 hours. In case of a suspected positive, the result will be confirmed within the next 12 hours. The blood and urine samples from athletes will be stored after the Games for eight years to enable retrospective testing on the samples when new tests for more drugs are developed. The team will employ the latest analytical techniques: ultra high performance liquid chromatography (UHPLC) will ensure fast chromatography with excellent resolution, and triple quadrupole mass spectrometers will provide high sensitivity with a speed of operation to match the UHPLC process. Gas chromatography and isotope-ratio mass spectrometry, as well as clinical chemistry techniques, will also be used to detect as many as 400 different substances across multiple pharmacological categories.

© Jeff Crow

before the test. The ‘biomarker’ test is claimed to be capable of distinguishing between HGH produced naturally in the body and synthetic HGH. HGH abuse has been hard to test for and is among the three biggest doping worries for the London Games. The first HGH test at the Olympics was in Athens in 2004. The new HGH test will work alongside the old one in London, giving testers a larger window to find traces of the substance.

EPO testing


Australia’s contribution Four scientists from the NMI’s Sports Drug Testing Laboratory in Sydney joined over 150 scientists from around the world who will be conducting the drug testing program for the London Olympic Games. Lance Brooker, Jill Simpson, Janelle Grainger and Catrin Goebel were invited to work with King’s College London in the provision of sports drug testing services for the London Olympics. Each member of the team will be working in the field of their expertise: Lance Brooker - isotope ratio mass spectrometry, Jill Simpson - erythropoietin, Janelle Grainger - human growth hormone and Catrin Goebel - liquid chromatography high resolution mass spectrometry. The Australian Government, through the Australian Sports Anti-doping Authority (ASADA), invested more than $1 million in the Pure Performance program to conduct more than 1000 blood and urine tests across Olympic and Paralympic athletes in the lead-up to London.

What about the horses? Of the 25 positive drug tests at the Beijing Olympics, six were for horses. Equine participants in the London Olympics will be tested as are the human athletes. Samples of blood and urine will be tested for prohibited substances, particularly anabolic steroids (synthetic derivatives of the male hormone testosterone), Epogen (a man-made form of the human protein erythropoietin) and corticosteroids. As in humans, anabolic steroids deliver increased muscle mass and strength to


the horses while Epogen stimulates bone marrow to produce more red blood cells and so increases the horse’s stamina. Corticosteroids are used as antiinflammatories. They are often injected into an arthritic joint to decrease pain and inflammation, enabling an equine athlete to perform better. Administrations of corticosteroids are not absolutely prohibited in performance horses but the level of corticosteroids in blood or urine is be evaluated to determine if an injection occurred within a prohibited time period. These are not the only tests on horses: following the 2004 Athens Olympics, Irish rider Cian O’Connor had to return his gold medal after his horse, Waterford Crystal, tested positive for the human anti-psychotics fluphenazine and zuclophenthixol. The Fédération Equestre Internationale, the governing body of the equestrian sports, has been working at enforcing and testing for drugs as well as finding ways to make the inevitable spills less damaging to the horse and rider.

Human growth hormone WADA has announced that a new test for the abuse of human growth hormone will be used at the Games, just weeks after it was cleared following a near 13-year development process. It is understood that human growth hormone testing will be particularly sensitive in London. Currently, HGH can only be detected if it has been used a few days prior to the test; this summer, advancements in biomarker technology mean it will show up even if the abuse took place weeks

WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - August/September 2012

Erythropoietin is a naturally occurring hormone that stimulates red blood cell production - more red blood cells means more oxygen carrying capacity, means better endurance for athletes. The glycoprotein hormone molecule is composed of an amino acid backbone with carbohydrate chains attached. Endogenous EPO and recombinant EPO differ slightly in the overall charge of the molecule. This difference is exploited when the EPO isoforms are separated by iso-electric focusing (IEF) in a pH 2-6 gradient. This allows the scientists to distinguish between a naturally occurring endogenous EPO isoform pattern and a recombinant EPO isoform pattern. Dr Francoise Lasne from the WADAaccredited lab in Paris developed the EPO testing method which, with slight modifications, will be used during the Games. Urine samples will be immunopurified to selectively capture all forms of EPO and eliminate other proteins. A Western blotting procedure will transfer the EPO from the gel onto a first membrane, which is then probed with a specific anti-human EPO antibody. A second blot transfers this antibody to a second membrane, which is then probed with a sequence of antibody conjugates, ending with the generation of chemiluminescence which is captured by a highly sensitive camera. Continuous erythropoietin receptor activators (CERA) can be detected by the urine EPO, but because of its size the molecule does not pass through the kidney’s glomerular filter into urine under normal physiological conditions and so is more effectively detected in plasma or serum. The Olympic Games are considered a coup by the host country as they reap the rewards of developing the infrastructure needed and then the global exposure generated during the Games. It is also good for science as it funds significant research and employs many talented researchers.

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very year a variety of bioscience societies combine to hold a joint megaconference - ComBio. This year the fully integrated meeting will incorporate the annual conferences of the Australian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the Australian Society of Plant Scientists, the Australia and New Zealand Society for Cell and Developmental Biology, the New Zealand Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the New Zealand Society of Plant Biologists, the AMATA - The Australasian Genomic Technologies Association and, for the first time, the Australasian Plant Pathology Society Molecular and Physiological Plant Pathology Special Interest Group. The scientifically rewarding conference will feature up to 48 symposia and six concurrent colloquia sessions covering seven thematic ‘streams’: • Gene regulation, genomics and bioinformatics • Protein structure, function and proteomics • Cell biology, architecture and trafficking • Signalling • Developmental biology • Plant biology • Plant pathology Confirmed plenary speakers at ComBio2012 include: • Brenda Andrews - University of Toronto, Canada • Gerald Crabtree - Stanford University, USA • Raymond J Deshaies - Howard Hughes Medical Institute, California Institute of Technology, USA • Richard Dixon - Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Ardmore, OK, USA • Seth Grant - Sanger Institute, UK • Jeff Hasty - University of California San Diego, La Jolla, USA • Douglas Hilton - Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Australia


• James Hurley - National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, USA • Michael Karin - University of California San Diego, La Jolla, USA • Ryan Lister - University of Western Australia, Australia • Robin Lovell-Badge - National Institute for Medical Research, London, UK • Chris Marshall - Institute of Cancer Research, London, UK • Susan McCouch - Cornell University, Ithica, USA • Andrew McMahon - Harvard University, USA • Anne Osbourn - John Innes Centre, Norwich, UK • John Patrick - University of Newcastle, Australia • Dale Sanders - John Innes Centre, Norwich, UK • John D Scott - Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Washington, Seattle, USA • Michael Shen - Columbia University, USA • James Whisstock - Monash University, Australia

Career development forum: research and beyond A career development forum will be held on Sunday 23 September, the day before the ComBio2012 scientific program commences. Entry is free for all ComBio2012 registrants. Professor Steve Wesselingh, the inaugural Director of the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, will be the keynote speaker. Professor Wesselingh will discuss what makes an ‘attractive recruitment target’ for today’s research employers. Bioscientists from various professional bodies will also speak on fellowships and other career opportunities in research and beyond, and give insights into different career paths in bioscience. For further information, contact

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Pathogen test for Salmonella Cell Biosciences has launched the Neogen ANSR molecular platform on the Australian market. ANSR for Salmonella is the first pathogen test available for the system and provides results after only 10 min of reaction time, while other commercially available molecular amplification tests require up to 3 h. The product requires only a single reaction temperature, which eliminates the time-consuming heating and cooling cycles of the 20-year-old polymerase chain reaction (PCR) methods. Cell Biosciences Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at

Article on the surface relaxation of water Textbooks and websites on the origin of the surface tension of water need to be rewritten, according to Maoyuan Liu, James K Beattie and Angus Anthony Gray-Weale. These sources describe a pristine, uncharged air/water interface. None recognise that the interface is in fact highly charged by the presence of adsorbed hydroxide ions, with hydronium ions providing charge balance in the double layer. Now Australian chemists at the Universities of Sydney and Melbourne have given an explanation for the millisecond relaxation time required for the air/water surface tension to reach its equilibrium value (72.7 mN/m at 293 K). Their results can be read in the article ‘The Surface Relaxation of Water’, published in The Journal of Physical Chemistry B. Often-overlooked early work with water microjets, and its subsequent confirmation, indicates that a newly formed pristine air/water interface has a surface tension of 80-100 mN/m. This relaxes to the equilibrium value in a few milliseconds through a combination of autolysis of water and diffusion of hydroxide ions to the interface. The formation of the charged double layer lowers the surface tension, just like the adsorption of typical soap-like amphiphilic surfactants. Water itself acts as a surfactant. There are practical consequences for submillisecond processes such as ink-jet printing and spray coating. University of Sydney

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Environmentally friendly disinfection of a pharmaceutical cleanroom With the growing need for microbiological clean environments, room disinfection is becoming ever more critical.


any pharmaceutical, biotech, cosmetic and other microbiology-sensitive industries are dependent on microbiologically clean areas for both production and R&D. Microbiologically clean environments are essential for a variety of purposes: manufacturing, employee safety in research environments, patient safety in hospitals and contamination control. Additionally, some industries are governed by regulatory bodies that impose standards for microbiological cleanliness and set requirements for regular, certified biodecontamination of certain areas. Typical biodecontamination procedures include: • annual shutdown biodecontamination • commissioning biodecontamination • decommissioning biodecontamination of areas used for pathogen work • eradication of problematic microorganisms from production lines and laboratory areas • emergency biodecontamination for accidental release or spillage of microorganisms • regular cleanroom biodecontamination • isolator and pass-through biodecontamination A large pharmaceutical plant in the US Midwest wanted to achieve a higher level of system automation and integrity as well as improve its spore-kill level during disinfection. The plant


Christopher Fournier, Mar Cor Purification

had used two different types of disinfection, H 2O 2 (hydrogen peroxide) and formaldehyde, and was not satisfied with either approach. Operating personnel decided to explore alternatives in order to achieve their requirements more effectively.

Dry fog technology After researching the available alternatives, the plant decided to investigate a dry fogging approach. The technology selected - the Minncare Dry Fog (DF) System - produces very fine droplets of disinfectant that are dispersed throughout a room. The disinfectant used by this system is a proprietary cold sterilant solution consisting of a stable mixture of peracetic acid and H 2O 2 that is bactericidal, fungicidal, virucidal and sporicidal. During the DF process, the humidity level of the room to be treated is first raised to 80%. Then the dry fog solution is evenly and completely dispersed in the room. A single DF unit can disinfect rooms up to 1000 m 3. Figure 1 shows a sample DF system set up for a 240 m 3 room. The disinfectant droplets are only 7.5 µm in diameter, so they bounce off solid surfaces and resist the excessive condensation, possible corrosion and surface wetting commonly associated with other fogging or manual cleaning procedures. The droplets eventually evaporate and the vapour penetrates normally inaccessible areas resulting in a more thorough disin-

WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - August/September 2012

© MartinkaK


Gram -Bacteria

Gram+ Bacteria

Peracetic Acid























Alcohol 70%











Quaternary ammonium







Hydrogen Peroxide













Table 1 compares the activity levels of peracetic acid, H2O2 and other biocides in treating common contaminants. (Guyader 1996.)  


Preparation Room Not Treated



Transit Rooms & Showers

Central Corridor



Membranes Extraction

Ribosome Extraction

1 Meter

fection process. The chemical is fully biodegradable, requires an extremely short process time and is much less corrosive than aldehyde-based materials.

Autosan room test The immediate area of concern for the pharmaceutical plant was the autosan (automatic sanitisation) room, a staging area for disinfection of non-product contact parts and large equipment heading into the cleanroom. The plant was using a solution of H 2O 2 sprayed via wet/fogging nozzles for sanitisation in the autosan room. The solution feed was set up in the staging chamber just outside the room with a line penetrating the wall to the nozzle. While the system was consistently achieving a 3-log or greater reduction of bacterial spores with the H 2O 2 method, having to wet all of the surfaces led to concerns over the potential for corrosion and material compatibility issues. Also, handling the low-pH active H 2O 2 required extensive safety precautions and the overall method’s efficiency in terms of total dispense, exposure and exhaust timing was less than desirable. A test procedure was arranged for the autosan room, which was 27 m 3 in size. Two sets of tests were run using two different levels of DF exposure time. The goal of the plan was to demonstrate a point at which the DF achieved a 4- to 6-log reduction on biologic indicator (BI) spore strips. The use of

Spore Strip & Petri Dish on the Floor

Spore Strip & Petri Dish on the Table

bacterial endospores, typically Geobacillus stearothermophilus, as a BI to measure the success of decontamination is a common standard. Overall results of testing showed that regardless of the concentration of the dry fog disinfectant and in as low as 15 minutes of contact time, a >6-log reduction was achieved on all BI indicators. Further, even with a reduced exhaust time versus the pre-existing process, issues with corrosion and residual clean-up were eliminated.

API production area test Based on the results of the DF test in the autosan room, the plant decided to investigate using it in active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) production areas. Previously, these areas were being disinfected - when returned to an aseptic state after facility shutdown - using a formaldehyde fog/spray. The procedure involved evacuating the building, remotely initiating spraying and quarantining the building for several hours. Afterwards, ventilation would be reintroduced and an additional one to two days were required to bring the formaldehyde concentrations back to the very low levels required by procedure, finally allowing re-entry. Furthermore, after the building was deemed safe for reentry, extensive personnel protective equipment and significant monitoring were required to ensure that operators were not exposed to detectable levels of formaldehyde during subse-

WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - August/September 2012


quent manual cleaning and sanitisation activities. The test procedure with dry fog consisted of disinfecting a two-storey area of the building that included a stairwell and elevator shaft. The dry fogging unit was positioned on the floor near the centre of the room. Twelve 3-log BIs and twelve 6-log BIs were placed around the room and on the ceiling. After a standard diffusion time and a hold time of 1 hour the HVAC was reintroduced. The disinfectant level dropped to a safe re-entry point in less than 15 minutes, saving one to two days that would have been lost using formaldehyde treatment. Subsequent BI results showed an overall spore reduction of six logs at the monitored locations, a level of sanitisation which easily surpassed the protocol requirements.

Conclusion As a result of the demonstrations, the plant decided to use the DF technology for disinfection procedures. Some of the benefits noted by the company were: • More reliable and better efficacy (6-log reduction) • Replacement of a hazardous chemical previously used (formaldehyde) • Reduced downtime during the treatment procedure (typically 3 hours or less) • Greatly reduced downtime for venting (compared to formaldehyde)


• Reduced procedure costs (compared to either H 2 O 2 or formaldehyde) • Significantly reduced corrosion • Fewer material compatibility issues • Elimination of sanitisation agent residue • Elimination of post-sanitisation manual clean-up Those benefits ultimately translated into a better, faster, safer and more environmentally friendly process that reduced labour and lowered operational costs. Onboard Solutions Contact info and more items like this at

Solvents for headspace gas chromatography Merck has introduced N,N-Dimethylformamide and Dimethyl

Cell growth imager With high-quality imaging and intelligent image analysis, CloneSelect Imager replaces time-consuming, subjective manual inspections with consistency and objectivity. Cell growth is viewed and tracked in every well in every plate, enabling consistent determination of cell confluence and cell number estimation. The product provides label-free, white light imaging of living cells, plus the generation of growth curves. It is suitable for adherent and settled suspension cells and is claimed to have been successfully used on cells lines such as CHO (examples including DG44 and CHO-K1), HEK, Myeloma/Hybridoma, SupT1, Jurkat, H-4-II-E, MCF-7, PER.C6, HT29, DLD1 and KB31.

sulfoxide, two SupraSolv solvents designed to meet the requirements of headspace gas chromatography: high purity and low concentrations of residual solvents, as defined by the ICH (International Conference on Harmonisation of Technical Requirements for Registration of Pharmaceuticals for Human Use). The solvents are optimised for the analysis of residual solvents in drug substances, excipients and drug products in accordance with ICH guideline Q3C ‘Impurities: Guideline for Residual Solvents’. This guideline divides all residual solvents into three classes according to how harmful they are to human health and defines permissible maximum concentrations in drug substances and products. Both the European Pharmacopoeia (Chapter 2.4.24) and the United States Pharmacopeia (Chapter <467>) refer to this guideline. For these solvents, the company specifies precisely the concentrations of the various residual solvents defined in the ICH guideline. In addition, a headspace application test

Bio-Strategy Pty Ltd

is performed for every batch produced.

Contact info and more items like this at

Merck Pty Limited Contact info and more items like this at


WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - August/September 2012

Food-texture analyser Mecmesin has released the Texture Analyser FTA 2.5 i. The analyser is based on the Mecmesin MultiTest 2.5 i, the 2.5 kN test centre for tension and compression. The product is controlled by the companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Emperor software, directly connected to the testing centre to control the machine and capture the data. The unit can be pre-programmed for routine testing as well as R&D testing. In-depth and advanced routines can be programmed and the analysing part of the software enables in-depth analysis of food-texture properties such as chewiness, firmness, hardness and softness of food products. Special probes and fixtures, such as the Kramer shear cell, dough and gluten test cell and a variety of accessories are available for all food products. SI Instruments Contact info and more items like this at

Gel electrophoresis imaging instrumentation Isogen Lifescience manufactures a wide range of instruments, reagents and consumables for cell biology, molecular biology and biochemistry. The company supplies gel electrophoresis imaging instrumentation and its ProXima 2000 Series platform is claimed to be the fastest, most flexible and easily upgradeable polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (PAGE) documentation and evaluation solution. Incorporating the latest electronics and optics, the series easily handles the most routine to the most demanding applications in proteomics and genomics. Combining innovative technology, high performance and ease of use, the series is fully upgradeable to higher specifications if research needs change over time. The ProXima 2000 Series features: small footprint; control via touch screen or external PC; unique image positioning tool facilitates fast and easy gel handling; single-button system handling; resolution suitable for every application; high sensitivity, especially for chemiluminescent applications; good signal-to-noise ratio; true multifluorophore capabilities through the use of Epivex optics; fluorescence optimised; ability to save images in different file formats; free software upgrades. Scientex Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at


WHATâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - August/September 2012

IP67 fully sealed backlit laboratory keyboard Interworld Electronics has released the EKB-106 fully sealed, medicalgrade, backlit keyboard with an integrated numeric keypad. The keyboard is completely sealed and provides IP67 protection. Resistant to dirt, dust, water, ice and corrosives, the keyboard is easy to clean with hospital-grade disinfectants, making it suitable for laboratory and medical environments. The keyboard features 106 low-profile keys including 12 function keys and a 10-key numeric keypad. A USB interface ensured compatibility with all Windows and Mac operating systems. Its integrated blue LED backlighting provides ample lighting for use in dimly lit areas, including laboratories, and operating and patient rooms. The EKB-106 measures 378.2 x 140.2 x 9.7 mm and can operate within a temperature range of 0-70°C. Interworld Electronics & Computer Industries Contact info and more items like this at

Freezer box with lid As an addition to its comprehensive range of racks, SSI has recently introduced a freezer box with lid. With no inner dividers to dictate tube size, this box can fit larger samples and wide-based tubes or sample containers. The freezer box can also be used to contain any loose tubes lying around in freezers. Made from sturdy polypropylene with a lift-off lid, the freezer box can be used in temperatures as low as -90°C and has dimensions of 125 x 125 x 43 mm. Interpath Services Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at

WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - August/September 2012



ROV aids critical Antarctic krill research A specially modified Falcon remote-operated vehicle has been supplied by ATSA Defence Services to the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre (ACE CRC) for research into sea ice algae. The vehicle will be jointly operated by researchers from ACE CRC and the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD). ACE CRC says new methods and technologies are needed to answer the questions of how the winter sea-ice extent affects biological productivity off East Antarctica and how sensitive krill populations are to potential future changes in sea ice extent. The centre selected the Falcon ROV for this critical work for a number of operational reasons, including the ease of removing ice from its propellers.

Corrosion-resistant programmable digital stirring hotplates Torrey Pines Scientific has announced the EchoTherm Model HS70 Corrosion-Resistant Fully Programmable Digital Stirring Hot Plates, suitable for use with aggressive chemicals in environments where other stirring hotplates would be quickly destroyed by vapours or spills. The hotplates are designed to be purged using an inert gas through a fitting on the rear of the chassis. Purging provides a positive pressure inside the unit to prevent

To meet the research specifications required, the ROV carries a special black finish, single-function, three-jaw manipulator arm and a fibre-optic upgrade to accept additional sensors. The ATSA engineering team spent four days training ACE CRC and AAD staff in the fibre-optic system, as well as monitoring the Falcon’s performance in ATSA’s test tank. During the Sea Ice Physics and Ecosystem eXperiment II (SIPEX II) the researchers will use newly developed sampling and observing systems and technologies to address their questions. These include the Falcon ROV, instrumented with an upward-looking sonar, light sensors and camera systems, to observe the subsurface of sea ice floes and film krill under sea ice. The ROV will be piloted from a control stand within a laboratory container on board the Aurora Australis, while a small crew operates its 350 m-long tether at a drill-hole out on the ice floe. Using online sonar data, the ROV will be ‘flown’ at a known distance to the subsurface of the ice, and while video observations are performed, measurements of the under-ice light field will be taken. These optical measurements are used to estimate the algal biomass within the sea ice. The method allows the quantification of ice algal biomass along transects and is approximately 20 times faster than classical ice coring methods, saving valuable ship time. Classical ice sampling methods - often based on ice corers with small diameters - provide insufficient data to understand large-scale processes. Forming a centimetre- to metre-thick skin on the ocean’s surface, sea ice provides a platform for marine birds and mammals and a substrate for microalgae. It is also a habitat for Antarctic krill - a key species in the Southern Ocean food chain - that feed on ice algae during winter and spring, when food in the water column is scarce. The ACE CRC says further research is needed to understand the physical, chemical and biological properties of sea ice during winter and early spring. ATSA Defence Services Contact info and more items like this at


WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - August/September 2012

corrosive gases from entering the chassis and attacking the electronics or stirring mechanism. The units feature 10-program memory with 10 steps per program, temperature ramping, RS232 I/O port, membrane keyboard and full-function liquid crystal display where all parameters are continuously visible. Heater tops are 20.3 cm2 solid ceramic with 600 W of power. Temperatures can be set to 450°C. The units are readable and settable to 1°C. Accuracy is 1% over the entire temperature range. Temperature control is by PID software and is controlled to ±1°C. Stirrer speeds can be set from 100 to 1500 rpm. Temperature ramping can be set from 1°C/h to 450°C/h in 1°C increments. The built-in timer is settable to 99 h and is readable to 1 s. It has an audible alarm and can automatically turn off the heater and stirrer when the timer counts down to zero. The units are supplied with a 15.2 cm teflon immersion probe for controlling solution temperatures directly. All units are available in 100, 115, and 230 VAC, 50/60 Hz models. They are UL, CSA and CE or equivalent agency certified and available in voltages for use anywhere in the world. Edwards Group Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at

© Peter Polák

Quantum threesomes

A quantum mechanics study has discovered a new bound state in atoms that may help scientists better understand matter and its composition.


he yet-unnamed bound state, which the physicists simply refer to as ‘our state’ in their study, applies to three identical atoms loosely bound together - a behaviour called three-body bound states in quantum mechanics. In this state, three atoms can stick together in a group but two cannot. Additionally, in some cases, the three atoms can stick together even when any two are trying to repel each other and break the connection. “It’s really counterintuitive because not only is the pair interaction too weak to bind two atoms together, it’s also actively trying to push the atoms apart, which is clearly not the goal when you want things to stick together,” said Brett Esry, university distinguished professor of physics at Kansas State University and the study’s lead investigator. Esry, along with Kansas State University postdoctoral researcher Nicolais Guevara and University of Colorado-Boulder colleague Yujun Wang - a Kansas State University graduate - calculated the quantum state in their study, ‘New Class of Three-Body States’, which was recently published in Physical Review Letters. The state is similar to Efimov three-body states, a loosely bound quantum state first predicted by Russian physicist Vitaly Efimov in the early 1970s. Physicists were able to first observe Efimov three-body states more than 30 years later through an experiment with ultracold atomic gases in 2006. These gases are one-billionth of a degree kelvin above absolute zero - a temperature that only exists in a handful of laboratories in the world. Esry said similar ultracold atomic gases are needed to observe their new quantum state as well since it can only exist at this temperature. While Efimov three-body states only occur in ultracold conditions with atoms classified as bosons, the state found by Esry and colleagues applies to both bosons and fermions - the two particle types that all matter can be classified as.



Additionally, the new quantum state exists in a pocket between short-ranged and long-ranged interactions. Short- and long-ranged interactions - or forces - are the distance at which the particle interactions are effective. With a long-ranged force, the particles have a greater distance between them and do not have to touch to interact and influence each other. With a short-ranged force, however, the particles must be in much closer proximity and interact similar to billiard balls colliding with one another, Esry said. The Efimov three-body states only exist for short-ranged interactions. “The three-body states that we found are formed by interactions that are neither short- nor long-ranged,” Esry said. “Instead, they lie right at the border between the two. So, more than anything, finding this new quantum state fills in a knowledge gap about three-body systems and quantum mechanics, which have been studied for centuries by physicists - including Sir Isaac Newton studying the Earth, moon and sun.” Scientists may also find uses for the quantum state in experiments with ultracold atomic gases. “That’s really the nature of basic research,” Esry said. “We’re trying things that hopefully will pay off for somebody 20 years or longer down the line. Efimov had to wait 35 years to see his states actually be seen and used as a way to understand these three-body systems. We hope we don’t have to wait that long.” Esry and colleagues will continue exploring this quantum state and to uncover how combinations of bosons and fermions behave in it. Kansas State University

WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - August/September 2012

Surface dissolution imaging system The Paraytec SDI 300 surface dissolution imaging system

Automated pressure calibrator

allows pharmaceutical formulators to directly image drugs

The ConST 811 automated pres-

dissolving from a tablet surface to enable more complete

sure calibrator, from

understanding of the drug behaviour in the body.

Zedflo, is a com-

The system is designed to provide key drug dissolution

pact, lightweight

information on the new generation of sparingly soluble drug

calibrator that can

types, which require a different approach in formulation sci-

generate from 90%

ence. It includes automated software for direct visualisation

vacuum to 25 bar (375 psi) using its built-in, high-performance pump.

and recording of the total surface dissolution processes.

The easy-to-use calibrator can automatically provide the required pressure with a control stability of 0.005% FS and accuracy of 0.02% FS. With optional external pressure sensors, it can measure pressures up to 700 bar (10,000 psi), with 0.025% accuracy. The unit has a large display with 7″ colour screen and an intuitive icon-driven menu structure for device under test and task selection. Hart communications is supported and 24 VDC loop power is provided, as well as reading the current or voltage of the pressure transmitter or transducer under test. The device contains a leak test/switch test facility and full documenting facilities. Its internal memory stores 120 tasks and its rechargeable battery lasts for 8 h. Zedflo Australia Contact info and more items like this at This means scientists will be able to gain an understanding of an active pharmaceutical ingredient at an earlier stage than possible with traditional dissolution techniques. ATA Scientific Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at

Mass spectrometry system The AB SCIEX TripleTOF 4600 System uses the power of TripleTOF technology to efficiently deliver results, whether the focus is food and environmental contaminant screening, clinical research, biologics or proteomics. The product can acquire high resolution accurate mass

Luminescent dissolved oxygen probe

MS and MS/MS data at up to 50 spectra per second,

Hach’s latest LDO (luminescent dissolved oxygen) probe requires

to learn more about your samples. This versatile system

no calibration for the entire two-year life of the sensor cap, which

offers sensitive and intelligent acquisition strategies to

means it is ready to start measuring DO (dissolved oxygen) right

suit a range of applications.

out of the box. With an added cutting-edge 3D calibration procedure

For best use, combine with Eksigent LC systems

that is conducted prior to shipping, the probe will not drift and is

and software tools in an AB SCIEX Accelerated Lab

said to be more accurate than ever before. By using the company’s luminescent technology for measuring DO, the probe has no membranes which need to be replaced or electrolyte solution to replenish, making it virtually maintenance free.

Integration package. AB SCIEX Australia Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at

Hach Company Contact info and more items like this at


WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - August/September 2012

Surface dissolution imaging system

Modular sterility testing workstation

The Paraytec SDI300 is a system for pharmaceutical

To meet the challenges of sterility testing, a

formulators to directly image dissolving from a tablet

fully integrated hydrogen peroxide vapour (HPV)

surface. This enables more complete understanding

workstation called the Bioquell QUBE has been

of the drug behaviour in the body, particularly for

launched. The product will help to ensure that the

sparingly soluble drug types.

aseptic test environment is stringently controlled

It is claimed to be the first tool of its kind to offer

to eliminate false positive results. It offers a fast,

quantitative and mechanistic information by directly

sporicidal bio-decontamination process with a

viewing the volumes immediately above the surface

high-level, validated 6-log reduction in bioburden.

as well as downstream. Both erosion and dissolution

Developed as a modular, barrier separation

can be visualised simultaneously and dissolution

system, the product provides a physical sepa-

rates obtained in less than 20 min, a fraction of the

ration of operators to the sterility test process.

time compared to conventional dissolution systems.

The closed barrier technology enables the user to apply the automated HPV biological

The system enables quantitative imaging of sur-

decontamination. Within a single module, a 20 min bio-decontamination cycle allows

face phenomena for a diverse range of substances

fast and efficient transfers. An EU GMP Grade A/ISO 5 compliant environment is

including active pharmaceutical ingredients, formula-

ensured by unidirectional airflow and isolator technology.

tions, gels, liquids, suspensions, stents and patches. ATA Scientific Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at

The intelligent modular design gives users flexibility in selecting the most suitable configuration for their individual processes: a single module can be installed if space is limited while a three-chamber workstation can be used for high-volume throughput applications. Capella Science Contact info and more items like this at


WHATâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - August/September 2012

DON-NIV immunoaffinity column Vicam, a Waters business, has introduced the DON-NIV WB Immunoaffinity (IA) Column, said to be the only IA column on the market to simultaneously screen for deoxynivalenol (DON) and nivalenol (NIV). The product provides rapid and simple sample preparation

now you have a choice.

using the strength of monoclonal antibody technology. Coupled with liquid chromatography analysis, the column provides over 90% recovery of both DON and NIV and increases the productivity of commercial, government and food safety research laboratories. Waters Australia Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at

Visualisation and measurement software for microscopy ImarisVantage is a good analytical tool to create and present complex data sets visualised in Imaris. Users can produce informative plots, in which object data can be shown in multiple, scalable dimensions overlaid with original 3D volume data. With multiple views at their disposal, users can turn 3/4D data into a dynamic gallery of individual objects or create an advanced time plot with spots, surfaces, filaments and cells displayed interactively as they undergo temporal changes. Scatter plots can also be used to produce detailed and customised views of data in multiple dimensions, with additional scale- and colour-coding for better

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understanding of underlying connections between objects. SciTech Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at

Nanoparticle-size and zeta-potential analyser The NanoPlus DLS Nano Particle Size and Zeta Potential Analyzer uses photon correlation spectroscopy and electrophoretic light-scattering techniques to determine particle size and zeta potential. The instrument can measure the particle size of samples suspended in liquids in the range of 0.6 nm to 10 µm with sample suspension concentrations from 0.00001 to 40%. It also has the ability to measure the zeta potential of sample suspensions in the -200 to +200 mV range with

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concentrations from 0.001 to 40%. The product is compact and easy to use, with an extended analysis range,

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intuitive software and multiple sample cells to fit the user’s application. It is available in three model configurations: NanoPlus-1 (a nanoparticle-sizing instrument); NanoPlus-2 (a zeta potential instrument); and NanoPlus-3 (a combination nanoparticle-sizing and zeta-potential instrument). Particle & Surface Sciences Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at









WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - August/September 2012


Redesigned benchtop meters Hanna Instruments has announced the release of several redesigned analytical benchtop meters. The meters, for pH, electrical conductivity (EC) and resistivity measurements, have been redesigned to improve usability, save space and give the units an attractive, uniform appearance. The meters include: HI 2209 (pH/mV meter), HI 22091 (pH/mV meter with analog output), HI 2314 (EC meter), HI 2315 (EC meter), HI 23151 (EC meter with analog output) and HI 2316 (EC and resistivity meter). In addition to an already high level of accuracy, each meter has been improved with a larger, easy-to-read LCD; space-saving built-in solution holders; and an attractive redesigned case. These changes enhance overall usability - a major consideration when designing analytical instrumentation. Hanna Instruments Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at

Electronic pipette The Mettler Toledo Rainin E4 XLS electronic pipette features high performance and ease of use. The company has drawn on advances in mobile phone and gaming technology, employing a fully functioning joystick, robust processor, carousel-like menu and large 16-bit colour screen. This makes operation highly graphical and far less linear. Navigation is also simplified, as moving between options and settings becomes fast and intuitive. In addition to basic pipetting functions, the product offers an array of features that range from simple to highly complex. It can be easily programmed for almost any application, from setting up mixing protocols, such as serial dilutions, to volume sequencing, reverse pipetting and titrate. The product also features ‘True Manual’ mode, which gives researchers precise, real-time control over aspiration and dispense speed. The pipette meets high standards for accuracy and precision. Careful attention has also been paid to the pipette’s balance and weight, making it comfortable and ergonomic. The contoured body, easy-to-reach controls and even balance minimise fatigue, even after hours of use. The pipette is available as a single-channel, multichannel with eight or 12 channels, and 6- or 8-channel adjustable spacer in a wide range of volumes. All feature the company’s LTS LiteTouch System, which is said to significantly reduce the force required for tip ejection. Single-channel models are also available for traditional shafts. Mettler Toledo Contact info and more items like this at


WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - August/September 2012


New LIMS implemented at Australian Genome Research Facility

© Maier

GenoLogics, a provider of laboratory information management system (LIMS) software specifically designed for next-generation omics labs, has announced that the Australian Genome Research Facility (AGRF) has implemented the GenoLogics Preconfigured Package for Illumina NGS and is now in full production, using the system. The LIMS will help the lab manage the increased throughput and data generated by AGRF’s sequencing systems. AGRF was one of the first genome research facilities to purchase the Preconfigured Package, which significantly speeds implementation times for labs with Illumina NGS systems, while providing maximum flexibility to interface with other instruments. “AGRF is experiencing a period of rapid growth as we deploy new NGS systems and expand our array of sequencing services in the region,” said Dr Stephen Wilcox, National Operations Manager at AGRF. “We needed a system that would allow us to manage the increased data and one that could be implemented relatively quickly. The GenoLogics Preconfigured Package for Illumina NGS was a clear choice, as the preconfigured workflows suited our needs.” AGRF has expanded its next-generation sequencing services and currently has five Illumina HiSeq 2000 instruments that form part of a suite of NGS instruments at the facility. To manage the resulting data deluge and seamlessly integrate with other relevant instrumentation, AGRF decided to deploy a new LIMS. The Preconfigured Package was selected because of its sample tracking capabilities, automated QC, preconfigured workflows that incorporate best practices, improved reporting and fast implementation time. “AGRF is a recognised leader in genomics service provision and we look forward to working with the company as it continues to expand its NGS and desktop sequencing,” stated Michael Ball, CEO at GenoLogics. “By providing a preconfigured LIMS that offers customisation capabilities, GenoLogics is well positioned to meet the increasing demands of sequencing centres.” OnQ Software Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at

Protecting your laboratory’s most valuable assets Powdersafe powder/solid chemical weighing enclosure

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WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - August/September 2012


RoHS rapid screening by benchtop XRF Applied Rigaku Technologies has published an application report for the Rigaku NEX QC VS analyser. Application Note #1238 demonstrates performance for the elemental analysis of chromium, mercury, lead, bromine and cadmium in polyethylene (PE) by X-ray fluorescence (XRF) rapid screening. Empirical calibration summary and detection limits are shown and instrument repeatability is presented. The Restriction on Hazardous Substances initiative (RoHS) limits the allowable amounts of toxic elements in plastics and consumer goods. XRF is an established analysis technique for rapid screening to quickly determine the presence of hazardous materials regulated by the RoHS and RoHS 2 protocols. The analyser - which has been designed to serve the RoHS markets - is a benchtop energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence (EDXRF) spectrometer with variable analysis spot size. The new method adheres to ASTM test method F2617, ‘Identification and Quantification of Chromium, Bromine, Cadmium, Mercury, and Lead in Polymeric Material Using Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectrometry’. The product is shown to be a reliable and rugged tool for measuring the toxic metals in PE and similar polymers both for screening incoming raw materials as well as during the production process. Australian X-Ray Tubes Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at

Image and data analysis software Definiens, a provider of image analysis and data mining solutions for quantitative digital pathology, has announced the release of Definiens Image Miner 2. The product provides researchers in the life sciences with deeper insights into underlying biology by integrating image with data analysis, turning images into computation information. It makes the wealth of information in biomedical images accessible, accelerating life sciences research and allowing for successful biomarker development. By supporting highly effective data exploration and study results, the duration of image-based studies can be reduced from weeks to days. The product provides researchers with the ability to easily switch between investigating trends and patterns in large data sets and drawing attention to subtle analysis details in single images. Using the statistic toolbox and the comprehensive visualisation options, new insights and knowledge can be generated from images. In combination with the company’s image analysis solutions, the product facilitates the processing of very large data sets. With seamless links between readouts and underlying images, related target structures are only a mouse-click away from relevant data points. The product supports predictive modelling by correlating image analysis results with data from other sources, such as patient outcome data in the development of predictive biomarkers. Interactive plots and data tables provide real-time feedback on study trends, while quality control and assay validation are facilitated by instant identification of outliers and artefacts. Definiens


WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - August/September 2012

Catalyst evaluation Paul A Webb, Micromeritics

Analytical instruments capable of measuring chemical and physical adsorption and desorption isotherms and those capable of analysing temperature-programmed reactions can be powerful tools in the study of catalysis.


nderstanding systems incorporating solid catalysts and gas or vapour reactants and products requires a thorough understanding of the surface structure and surface chemistry of the active material.

The adsorption phenomenon Gas or vapour molecules can become bound to weak surface energy sites on solids. This generally describes the adsorption phenomenon. Physisorption (physical adsorption) is easily reversed and is the result of relatively weak Van der Waal’s interaction forces between the solid surface and the adsorbate. Whereas, with chemisorption (chemical adsorption), electrons are shared between the adsorbate and the solid surface forming a chemical bond. Chemisorption is difficult to reverse and a significant quantity of energy usually is required to remove chemically adsorbed molecules. For both types of adsorption the quantity of molecules taken up by the surface depends on several conditions and surface features including temperature, pressure, surface energy distribution and the surface area of the solid. Physical adsorption takes place on all surfaces provided that temperature and pressure conditions are favourable. Chemisorption, however, occurs only between certain adsorbents and adsorptive species and only if the surface is cleaned of previously adsorbed molecules. Under proper conditions, physical adsorption can result in adsorbed molecules forming multiple layers. Chemisorption, on the other hand, only proceeds as long as the adsorptive can make direct contact with the surface; it is therefore a single-layer process. A characteristic of physical adsorption is that almost all the adsorbed molecules can be removed by evacuation at the same

temperature at which adsorption occurred. Heating accelerates desorption because it makes readily available to the adsorbed molecules the energy necessary to escape the adsorption site. A chemically adsorbed molecule is strongly bound to the surface and cannot escape without the influx of a relatively large quantity of energy compared to that necessary to liberate a physically bound molecule. This energy is provided by heat and often very high temperatures are required to clean a surface of chemically adsorbed molecules. Physisorption tends to occur only at temperatures near or below the boiling point of the adsorptive at the prevailing pressure. This is not the case with chemisorption. Chemisorption usually takes place at temperatures well above the boiling point of the liquefied adsorptive.

The relationship of chemisorption to catalysis Catalysts affect the rate of a chemical reaction without being consumed themselves. A catalyst cannot cause a reaction that otherwise would not occur; it only can increase the rate at which the reaction approaches equilibrium. The surface of an ‘active’ metal is composed of chemisorption sites. Supported catalysts are those on which finely divided grains of the active metal are mixed with the support material. Those grains located on the surface of the support are available to react with the adsorptive. If the accelerated rate of reaction simply was due to an increased concentration of molecules at the surface, catalysis would result from physical adsorption of the reactants. This is not the case and chemisorption is an essential step, apparently inducing the adsorbed molecule to be more receptive to chemical reaction. The dependence of catalysis on chemisorption is

WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - August/September 2012



one reason why chemisorption as an analytical technique is so informative in the study of catalysis. Stages in a heterogeneous catalytic reaction are: 1. Diffusion (transport) of reactants to the surface of the catalyst. 2. Chemisorption of reactant(s). 3. Surface reactions among chemisorbed species. 4. Liberation of products from catalyst. 5. Diffusion (transport) of products away from the surface of the catalyst to allow recycling to step 1. Predicting the efficiency of steps 1 and 5 is aided by analytical techniques such as physical adsorption and mercury porosimetry, which characterise the porosity of the catalyst bed, catalyst monolith or the individual grains of catalyst material. Characterising steps 2, 3 and 4 is the domain of chemisorption analyses.

Chemisorption techniques and methods for the evaluation of catalysts Chemisorption analyses may be applied to determine a catalyst’s relative efficiency in promoting a particular reaction. Additionally, chemisorption analyses may be used to study catalyst poisoning and in monitoring the degradation of catalytic activity over time of use. Isothermal chemisorption analyses are performed by two chemisorption techniques: a) static volumetric chemisorption and b) dynamic (flowing gas) chemisorption. The volumetric technique is convenient for obtaining a high-resolution measurement of the chemisorption isotherm from very low pressure to atmospheric pressure at essentially any temperature from near ambient to 1000°C or greater. (The adsorption isotherm is a plot of the quantity of molecules adsorbed versus pressure at constant temperature.) Pulse chemisorption, a flowing gas technique, is typically performed at ambient pressure. After the sample has been cleaned, small quantities of an adsorbate are injected until the sample is saturated. A calibrated thermal conductivity detector (TCD) is used to determine the quantity of adsorptive molecules taken up by active sites upon each injection. Initial injections may be adsorbed totally; ultimately none of the injection will be adsorbed, indicating saturation. The number of molecules of gas adsorbed is directly related to the exposed surface area of active material. The quantity of gas adsorbed per gram of sample combined with the knowledge of the stoichiometry of the reaction and the quantity of active metal mixed with support material during formulation of the catalyst allows the per cent metal dispersion to be calculated. This is an important indicator of the performance of the catalyst and an important economic measure of how efficiently the active metal is being employed in a catalyst product. Temperature programmed desorption (TPD), temperature programmed reduction (TPR) and temperature programmed oxidation (TPO) are three non-isothermal methods for characterising catalysts. Temperature-programmed desorption does not typically employ a vacuum, so it better simulates conditions found in actual industrial applications.


In the TPD analysis, sample is placed in a sample cell and pretreated to clean the active surfaces. Next, a selected gas or vapour is chemisorbed onto the active sites until saturation is achieved, after which the remaining adsorptive molecules are flushed out with an inert gas. Temperature (energy) is increased at a controlled rate while a constant flow of inert gas is maintained over the sample. The inert gas and any desorbed molecules are monitored by a TCD. The TCD signal is proportional to the quantity of molecules desorbed as thermal energy overcomes the binding energy. Quantities desorbed at specific temperatures provide information about the number, strength and heterogeneity of the chemisorption sites. TPR is mainly used to study the reducibility of oxidic species such as metal oxides dispersed on a support. The technique involves flowing a stream of diluted hydrogen (or another reducing agent) over the sample as the sample temperature is increased. The quantity of hydrogen consumed and the temperature profile under which the reduction takes place are measured. A plot of quantity of hydrogen consumed versus temperature can produce one or more peaks and the data obtained reveals the number of reducible species in the sample, as well as their activation energies. TPO is performed to examine the extent to which a catalyst can be re-oxidised. Usually the sample is pretreated and the metal oxides are reduced to the base metal. The sample is heated at a uniform rate as the reactant gas, typically 2% oxygen, is applied to the sample in pulses or alternatively as a steady stream. The oxidation reaction occurs at a specific temperature and the resulting uptake of oxygen is quantified.

Surface energies When a solid surface is exposed to an adsorptive, the most energetic sites are occupied first. The heat of adsorption at a specific degree of surface coverage (loading) can be calculated using the ClausiusClapeyron equation. This expression describes the isosteric heat of adsorption in terms of pressure, temperature and the gas constant, and is particularly applicable to data obtained by volumetric adsorption techniques. The isosteric heats of adsorption over a range of coverage can be obtained from adsorption isosteres, which are plots of pressure vs temperature at a constant volume adsorbed. Adsorption energy also can be deduced from data obtained by the dynamic chemisorption technique, particularly TPD. The process by this method is in the opposite direction as that described for static volumetric technique. In the present case, heat (energy) is applied and, as temperature increases, molecules are liberated in order of weakest bonding. The desorbed molecules are swept away and no re-adsorption is allowed to occur. The rate of change of surface coverage, or loading, is related to the rate of change in temperature.

Summary Chemisorption is a fundamental process in heterogeneous catalysis. Understanding the chemisorption process associated with a catalyst and reactant is key to controlling the design and manufacture of catalysts and for catalyst evaluation. Particle & Surface Sciences Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at

WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - August/September 2012

Microscope workstation range Laboratory Systems Group manufactures the AirClean Systems range of ductless microscope enclosures

Laboratory stools and chairs

to provide either a Class 100 (ISO Class 5) work

Aktivlab has available several ranges

environment or protect the operator from exposure to

of lab stools and chairs, such as the

chemical fumes, vapours or particulate. Completely

Labfit range, which cater to almost

isolated glove box designs are also available in

any height and posture. These prod-

static and Class 3 configurations. Each enclosure is designed to work with a range

ucts can be used to help prevent fatigue in lab personnel.

of microscopes. The microscope access port allows

Some lab processes can even be

for easy access of the eyepiece and viewing platform

performed from a semi-standing

while still protecting the operator or process, and a

position, which is where a person's

custom sash closure allows for operator protection

feet take some weight and a stool

without compromising airflow. The process protection

with a small seat is positioned to

workstations are equipped with a safety interlock

take the balance of the body weight.

and optional UV light.

Lab stools and chairs should be made from self skinning polyurethane foam which eliminates seams and gaps in the construction and makes for superior durability and cleanliness.

and chemical-resistant material, are microprocessor controlled. They feature audible and visible alarms and a fluorescent light.

Aktivlab Contact info and more items like this at

The workstations, which are constructed from UV-

Laboratory Systems Group Contact info and more items like this at

WHATâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - August/September 2012


Stackable shaking incubator The ZWY-2403 Series incubator shaker can be stacked up to three units high, providing laboratory professionals with tripled culture capacity while only occupying the same footprint of a single shaker. The unit uses PID and fuzzy logic to control temperature, ranging from 4-60°C with 0.1°C accuracy. It features an insulated fold-down door with a double-layer glass window for high visibility. On all refrigerating models, a microprocessor controller provides versatility by enabling users to create a personalised program (with up to nine segments, with cycling) to automate changes to function parameters on a time basis. The dedicated sliding shaking platform provides convenient access to the user’s experiment products. A heavy-duty, eccentric drive mechanism allows extended speed ranges from 30 to 300 rpm, ±1 rpm with minimised vibration, even when the shakers are stacked three high. A robust brushless DC motor enables a quiet and smooth shaking motion, even when the unit is operating at top speed with maximum workload. An interior chamber light enhances observation. The shaker has a range of safety features. Non-volatile memory saves settings during a power outage and automatically restarts the unit after power is restored. The heater shuts off when the high-temperature limit is exceeded. The shaker stops when excess vibration is detected or when the door is opened. Audible and visual alarms alert the user of setpoint deviations, and can be muted. LABWIT Scientific Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at


return on investment


to configure and install


fully integrated lims solution

Australian local product, service and advice


WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - August/September 2012

pH mV(ORP)

Microplate stacker


The BioStack3 Microplate Stacker,


from BioTek, has been designed to ensure efficient laboratory mi-


croplate processes. The product


features a dual plate carrier and


rotational wrist to quickly move plates from the source stack to the instrument and back to the destination stack, keeping two plates in process. The product is claimed to be the fastest stacker of its kind, designed to provide increased throughput for batched processes. In less than 10 s total transfer time, it can remove one plate from an instrument carrier and replace it with another microplate, increasing overall productivity for batch processes. In addition to the fast total transfer time, the product features a choice of 10, 30, or 50 microplate storage stacks, and maintains its small footprint for use in a biosafety cabinet or hood. The product automates routine microplate-based processes when integrated with most of the company’s instrumentation for walkaway automation. Millennium Science Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at

Laboratory plasticware range DKSH Australia has launched its own brand of laboratory products - LabSource, a range of commonly used products featured in labs around the country. The disposable plasticware range consists of cell and tissue culture products, serological and transfer pipettes, macro and micro centrifuge tubes, serum sample and freezing tubes, plastic and cardboard freezer boxes and more. All plastic products are designed and manufactured in a 100,000 grade, clean-room environment under the control of ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 13485 quality management systems. The products are manufactured with 100% USP VI crystal class virgin polystyrene (GPPS) and equally high-quality polyethylene (PE). The high transparency of high-class material ensures good observability. In addition, all the products are sterilised by gamma irradiation and certified non-pyrogenic. In due course, the brand will also launch filtration, liquid handling and general laboratory consumable products as well as laboratory equipment. DKSH Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at

F-70 Series Benchtop Meters HORIBA popular ToupH electrode is now tougher and responds faster. Enhanced stability and minimised drift. Intergrating two new technologies for faster response and optimal performance. NEW TECHNOLOGY 01 pH fast response glass membrane The membrane contains HORIBA’s unique combination of rare earth metals to improve response time and increase durability. NEW TECHNOLOGY 02 Reference electrode with increased stability (patent pending) Liquid Junction clogging by silver ions and silver complex ions is reduced to 1/1000 of conventional technology. Maintaining internal solution concentration ensures a stable standard electrical potential. ToupH electrodes are now even stronger HORIBA’s glass membrane moulding technology achieves strengths more than 10 times the Japanese Industrial Standards (stress tests) Australian Scientific Pty Ltd PO Box 335 Kotara, NSW 2289

Tel: 1800 021 083 Fax: 02 4956 2525


WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - August/September 2012


Small ways to produce big bangs Microreactors can be used to produce explosive materials such as nitroglycerine, about 10 times more quickly than they can be synthesised in conventional vessels. And the process is safer too.


roducing explosives calls for extreme caution. If you want to tunnel through a mountain you can blast through the rock with explosive gelatin made largely out of nitroglycerine - better known as dynamite. But no one wants a demonstration of these explosive forces in their lab. Because the production process of explosive materials generates heat, it must proceed slowly: drop for drop, the reagents are added to the agitating vessel that holds the initial substance. An explosion can result if the mixture heats up too quickly. The heat generated cannot be permitted to exceed the heat dissipated. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology ICT in Pfinztal have developed a method for safer production of nitroglycerine: a microreactor process that has been tailored to this specific reaction. What makes the process safer are the tiny quantities involved. Smaller quantities means less heat is generated and because the surface is very expansive compared to the volume involved, the system is very easy to cool. Another benefit: the tiny reactor produces the explosive material considerably faster than in agitating vessels. Unlike a large agitating vessel filled before the slow reaction proceeds, the microreactor works continuously: the base materials flow through tiny channels into the reaction chamber in ‘assembly-line fashion’. There, they react with one another for several seconds before flowing through other channels into a second microreactor for purification. (The interim product  from the first microreactor contains impurities that need to be removed for safety reasons.) Purification in the microreactor functions perfectly: the product produced meets pharmaceutical specifications and in a modified form can even be used in nitro capsules for patients with heart disease. “This marks the first use of microreactors in a process not only for synthesis of a material but also for its subsequent processing,” claims Dr Stefan Löbbecke, Deputy Division Director at ICT.

Customising microreactors When developing a microreactor, researchers need to match the reactors to the reaction desired: • How large should the channels be to ensure that the heat generated can be dissipated effectively? • Where do impediments need to be built into the channels to ensure that the fluids are well blended and the reaction proceeds as planned? Another important parameter is the speed with which the liquids flow through the channels: on the one hand, they need enough time to react with one another, while on the other the reaction should come to an end as soon as the product is formed. Otherwise, the result might be too many unwanted by-products. While microreactors suggest themselves for explosive materials, this is not the only conceivable application: researchers at ICT build reactors for every chemical reaction conceivable - and each is tailored to the particular reaction involved. Just one of numerous other examples is a microreactor that produces polymers for OLEDs. OLEDs are organic light-emitting diodes that are particularly common in displays and monitors. The polymers of which the OLEDs are made light up in colours. However, as they are synthesised imperfections easily arise that rob the polymers of some of their luminosity. © Tribalium


“Through precise process management, we are able to minimise the number of these imperfections,“ Löbbecke points out. To accomplish this, researchers first analysed the reaction in minute detail: When do the polymers form? When do the imperfections arise? How fast does the process need to be? “As it turns out, many of the reaction protocol that people are familiar with from batch processes are unnecessary. Often, the base materials don‘t need to boil for hours at a time; in many cases all it takes is a few seconds,” the researcher has

found. Long periods spent boiling can cause the products to decompose or generate unwanted by-products. To develop and perfect a microreactor for a new reaction, the researchers study the ongoing reaction in real time - peering into the reactor itself, so to speak. Various analytical procedures are helpful in this regard: some, such as spectroscopic techniques, reveal which kinds of products are created in the reactor - and thus how researchers can systematically increase yields of the desired product, possibly even preventing by-products from forming in the first place. Other analytical methods, such as calorimetry, provide scientists with information about the heat released over the course of a reaction. This measurement method tells them how quickly and completely the reaction is proceeding. It also provides an indication of how the process conditions need to be selected to ensure that the reaction proceeds safely. Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft

A Reference Thermometer as versatile as you are. Now you can Measure, Graph, and Record three sensor types anywhere . . . with the 1523/24 Reference Thermometers from Fluke Calibration that offer: • High accuracy: PRTs: ± 0.011 °C; Thermocouples: ± 0.24 °C; Thermistors: ± 0.002 °C • The ability to quickly see trends and load probe information • Two-channel simultaneous measurement, 25 screen captures and logging up to 15,000 measurements (1524 only) Call Fluke Australia today on +61 2 8850 3333 or go to for more information. Fluke Calibration Electrical

RF Temperature




Fluke Calibration. Precision, performance, confidence.™

WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - August/September 2012


XY microscopy stages with linear drives PI (Physik Instrumente) has developed PILine driven XY micros-

Multiparameter water quality meter

copy stage series M-687 with high resolution linear scales to add

The Bante 900 benchtop unit is designed for high performance

to the standard product range available from Warsash Scientific.

and easy operation. It is capable of measuring up to eight water quality parameters, including pH, ORP, ion, conductivity, TDS, salinity, resistivity, DO and temperature. The unit carries many features such as multipoint push-button calibration, auto buffer recognition, viewing of the electrode slope, automatic temperature compensation, ion concentration measurement and more. The product provides meaningful data, switches between ppm and mL/L and is able to measure 13 different types of ions. It comes

Bundled together with the C-867.262 controller, specifically

with quality electrodes.

designed for microscopy applications, the systems provide:

Crea Laboratory Technologies Pty Ltd

low profile and uniformly flat form factor; high dynamical range

Contact info and more items like this at

from 10 µm/s to 100 mm/s with good velocity constancy; high resolution, repeatability, stability and accuracy. Due to these properties the systems are suitable for different microscopy applications, benefiting end users and OEMs. The systems are available in two versions. The M26821LNJ Nikon Eclipse Ti Series consists of a M-687.UN microscopy stage, C-867.262 controller and a USB Joystick. It is designed for the inverted Nikon Eclipse Series. The M26821LOJ Olympus IX Series consists of an M-687.UO microscopy stage, C-867.262 controller and a USB Joystick. It is designed for the inverted Olympus IX Series. Due to the different geometries of the microscopes, the Nikon version provides higher stroke (130 x 85 mm) compared to the Olympus version (100 x 75 mm). To achieve 100 x 75 mm on the Olympus IX2 series, the free aperture already had to be made smaller - it is 110 x 160 mm. The Nikon version stage

Effective determination of dibasic acids

M-687.UN has a Nikon compatible 238.2 x 157.2 mm aperture

Thermo Fisher Scientific has announced an effective method for the

which is visible, once the reduction adapter to 160 x 110 mm

determination of succinic, glutaric and adipic acids in solutions of mixed

aperture, is removed. This also means that Nikon accessories

dibasic acids generated during cyclohexane oxidation.

like the Universal Holder directly fit. Warsash Scientific Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at

‘Application Note 285: Determination of Succinic, Glutaric, and Adipic Acids as Quality Control of Cyclohexone Production’ demonstrates use of the company’s liquid chromatography system (Thermo Scientific Dionex UltiMate 3000 RSLC system) with organic acid analytical column (Thermo Scientific Acclaim OA column) and mass spectrometry (MS) detection to achieve a fast baseline separation of these three dibasic acids with good resolution values (Rs ≥2.6), good method reproducibility, good linearity within 0.1 to 5 mg/L and accurate results for industrial samples. Cyclohexone is the key intermediate for the production of adipic acid, an important compound for the synthesis of nylon 66. Cyclohexane oxidation is the normal method for the production of cyclohexone; and succinic, glutaric and adipic acids, as well as their dehydration products, are the main by-products. The three aliphatic dicarboxylic acids are also important chemical raw materials, and their determination is important for the quality control of cyclohexone production and recycling of the by-products. This application note and many others can be found at under the Documents tab. Thermo Fisher Scientific Contact info and more items like this at


WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - August/September 2012

Flowmeter The MFG-420 flowmeter is suitable for the accurate mass flow measurement of compressed air and gases with rate/total display and 4-20 mA or pulse outputs. Display engineering units and gas type software are selectable. The product operates using the calorimetric measuring principle. This technology uses a heated sensor which is cooled by the gas flow as it passes and the degree of cooling is dependent upon the mass flow rate of the flow medium. Through precise measurement of the cooling effect, a direct mass flow reading can be calculated; therefore additional temperature and pressure sensors are not required. The flowmeter not only calculates and display mass flow rate and total, but also provides signal outputs to interface with other process instrumentation. It features a 4-20 mA output linear to instantaneous mass flow rate and a scaled pulse for flow total. The product is also supplied with its own stainless steel measuring section pipework, which is said to provide a higher degree of accuracy as factory calibration of the sensor is carried out with it mounted in its own measuring section. Due to its compact design and flexibility, the product can be used to monitor a wide range of compressed air systems, from the compressor itself to the smallest compressed air tool. Applications may include: compressed air monitoring and flow balancing; leak detection and management; portable compressed air measurement; flow measurement of process gases; flow measurement of nitrogen generators. The product is designed for pipeline installations from 0.5 to 2â&#x20AC;ł. It is easy to install, with no moving parts and no additional temperature or pressure sensors necessary. There is negligible pressure loss and it can register capacity to 1,999,999,999 m3. Duff & Macintosh Contact info and more items like this at

WHATâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - August/September 2012


my lab 46

SIMS allows scientists to fish for facts By Lauren Davis Hidden on the foreshores of Chowder Bay, Mosman, the Sydney Institute of Marine Science (SIMS) has recently completed a 12-month upgrade at the cost of over $20 million, thanks to federal and state government funding. Once crammed into one small space, the facility now boasts seven laboratories, upgraded aquaria facilities, offices, conference rooms and more. Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr Emma Thompson has watched the upgrade progress from the early days of SIMS to its grand opening by the Minister for Science and Research, the Hon Chris Evans, in May this year. “I had a basic lab before,” said Dr Thompson. “I Dr Emma Thompson with NSW Minister for used to have to take my work to Macquarie to do Primary Industries, the Hon. Katrina Hodgkinson, some parts of it because we didn’t have the facili- at the opening earlier this year. ties here before.” Founded in 2005 as a collaborative initiative between UTS, University of Sydney, Macquarie University and UNSW, SIMS provides access to equipment and space for researchers from these universities, member universities and visiting scientists from overseas. There is space for around 40 people in the laboratories, as well as numerous project groups using tanks in the aquarium. This is particularly useful for those students who require access to fresh seawater - something which the institute has plenty of, as Laboratory Supervisor The controlled environment room in the aquarium. Amanda Tupicoff explained. “The aquarium facilities that we can now provide have fresh seawater pumping through every day. Local marine aquaria, such as those at our partner universities, have to rely on water collected and stored for periods of time. The facilities we can now provide, such as temperature control of air and water as well as pH manipulation, make SIMS unique,” said Tupicoff. Of particular interest is the facility’s running seawater Physical Containment 2 (PC2) lab - one of only two at a marine research facility in Australia. “There are certainly PC2 labs throughout Australia which can house some aquaria, but you can’t run an aquarium setting effectively in a PC2 lab to Amanda Tupicoff and Dr Emma Thompson. replicate nature, certainly not at the volumes we can access here,” said Tupicoff. “We have the ability to pump fresh seawater directly from the source, whilst being able to treat wastewater to ensure we can contain introduced factors such as metal contaminants, species or biocontaminants.” Dr Thompson added, “It’s something that would prevent a lot of work happening in other places, because of biohazards and biosafety. The PC2 means we can secure it for a certain project that wouldn’t necessarily be able to go ahead in universities, or in our general aquarium.” Perhaps most impressive is the fact that the facility is contained in heritage-listed buildings originally military barracks - meaning the upgrade had to be entirely internal. Tupicoff said this was a challenge, but worth it. “The transformation inside has just been great,” she said. “We’ve gone from a single multiuse space to state-of-the-art facilities.”

WHAT’S NEW IN LAB & LIFE SCIENCES - August/September 2012


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ClonePix 2

Screen and accurately select secretory cells Image, analyse, rank and pick the best colonies

CloneSelect Imager

Image, quantify and objectively assess cell growth

What’s New in LAB & Life Sciences Aug/Sep 2012  

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