Faster, nanoscale HPLC from Eksigent

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Eksigent Technologies is launching a new high-pressure liquid
chromatography system in March that can increase throughput
compared to rival HPLC systems as much as six-fold.

The company believes the new range gives it an opportunity to take on the leading players in this category, notably Agilent and Waters, with an offering that not only speeds up HPLC testing but also provides reductions in the amount of solvents used, labour requirements and bench space.

The new Express 800 system uses the microscale pump technology that has been developed and implemented on Eksigent's NanoLC range of fluid handling systems, used in proteomics research that requires extremely accurate flow rates.

The new system makes use of two innovations at Eksigent​, according to chief operating officer Jeff Jenson. The first is a microprocessor-controlled sample injection system that controls the volume delivered with just 0.5 per cent variability, and avoids users having to alter the concentration or volume of a sample. The second is an improved ultraviolet light detection system that overcomes the problem of degraded resolution that occur when dealing with samples at the nanolitre scale.

"Most systems with nanolitre-scale flow rates suffer from problems with sensitivity and variance, which can lead to a lack of linearity in results,"​ said Jenson. Eksigent's approach is a dramatic advance in what has become a tried and tested technology, he added.

Beta testing of the Express 800 system has already been carried out at some big pharmaceutical companies, notably GlaxoSmithKline, over the last 12 months, and it will make its official debut at this year's Pittcon​ meeting, to be held in Chicago, US, in March.

GSK is at the forefront of adopting an industrialised approach to drug discovery, and the Express 800 system fits with its strategy of driving throughput capabilities. Current HPLC systems are often serial devices that can take 10-15 minutes to process a sample. This is speeded up four to six times using the Express 800, and even higher throughput can be achieved by linking (multiplexing) the systems together.

Eksigent is currently working on an eight-channel system, which should start beta testing in the next couple of months and should be on the market in June or July.


This dramatic increase in speed is critical for such high throughput applications as in vitro​ ADME-Tox (absorption, distribution metabolism, excretion and toxicology) screening, which can help pharmaceutical companies identify druggable lead candidates much earlier in the discovery process. These could include lipophilicity, solubility and permeability testing.

Eksigent is not revealing specific pricing details, but Jenson said the single-channel version of the Express 800 would cost in the region of $50,000. The company estimates that switching to its machine from some competing systems could yield dramatic savings, perhaps as much as $500,000 over five years.

Reduced labour costs are expected to contribute most to this saving, although useful important benefit is the 99 per cent reduction in solvent and sample use with Express 800 versus conventional HPLC systems.

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