What’s the Future of Pharma?

The pharmaceutical industry has been in something of a state of flux over the past decade. New business models, regulatory changes, healthcare challenges (such as an aging population), and growing demand in emerging markets, are all shaping the direction of travel. So where is the sector headed, and how will the industry use water – arguably its most important resource – in the future? What is the future of pharma?

How age takes its toll on your water purification system

Water purification is no new concept. In fact, as early as 2000 BC, the Ancient Greeks were writing about the benefits of boiling water to purify it. Without a doubt, water purification has come a long way since then and relies not on one, but multiple technologies, to ensure the purest water.

Here at ELGA, we build our systems to last, but, it goes without saying, that (like the best of us) time will take a toll on your machine. Bacteria build-up in pipes, incompatible software and leaching are just three problems to look out for.

Check out more in this retro infographic on how age takes its toll on your water purification system.

Top science stories from 2016 Part II

As we saw in our previous blog, we have already seen that the field of analytical science has provided us with an excess of fascinating scientific research, including moving towards the development of novel biosensors for bacterial detection, and the identification of a group of toxins that may make effective cancer drugs. Because science certainly never sleeps, we have outlined more research areas that we have found to be significant while communicating with scientists about the challenges they face, so check out part two of our top science stories from 2016.

9 Questions you should ask before purchasing a new water purification system

Many different laboratories require a consistent supply of high purity water. From those that need it for analytical experiments through to those that use it for cell culturing, with so many different ways of using water, it’s important to ensure that your purification system meets your laboratory’s individual needs.

So, before purchasing a new water purification system, have you considered all the factors that will affect how your set-up will be used? Here are nine questions every laboratory should ask before purchasing a water purification system.

1. What type of water do I need for my application?

Different laboratory techniques require different levels of water purity. Some applications are more sensitive to contamination and may require a higher grade of water quality. For example, water for cleaning laboratory glassware doesn’t typically need to be that pure, whereas even low levels of contamination can interfere with mass spectrometry or HPLC experiments. Money and other resources can be saved by only using higher purity water for those applications that need it.

It is therefore important to ensure the water purity you use is suitable for your application. Water purity ranges from Type I+, which has a resistivity of 18.2 MΩ and is used in highly sensitive experiments, to Type III, which has a resistivity of >0.05 MΩ and is used as feedwater for purification systems and for washing machines and autoclaves.

You can use our useful infographic to help match the type of water you’ll need to the applications you use.

Elga InfoG V8 A0 Size

2. What impurities do I need to remove?

A typical glass of unpurified water contains bacteria, organic material, ions and gases, amongst other contaminants. Water purification systems use a combination of purification methods, such as reverse osmosis, ion-exchange, electrodeionization, ultraviolet light, irradiation and ultrafiltration to remove these impurities. Some systems not only purify water, but also monitor the levels of these contaminants via in-line resistivity and TOC measurements to ensure optimal water quality.

Different laboratory applications are affected by different types of impurities. For example, unwanted bacteria can introduce foreign DNA into a sequencing project, while organic contaminants may produce unwanted background readings in MS experiments. It’s therefore essential to ensure your water purification system supplies water of a grade that meets your requirements.

3. Do I need more than one type of water?

The grade of water quality your laboratory will need depends on the type of techniques you use. If you use multiple techniques that require a range of water purities, you should consider a system that offers a range of supply options. Some systems allow mains water to be pretreated to Type III level, and further purified to ultrapure Type I+ standard, offering varying grades of purity. If you think your use of a particular level of water purity will vary over time, a modular system that can be easily reconfigured could help you easily adapt to meet future demands.

4. What is my daily water usage?

A typical laboratory is estimated to use around five-times more water than a comparably sized office block – that’s approximately 35 million litres per year. Whether you use more or less than this amount, it is important to ensure a consistent supply. A purification system enables a consistent flow of high quality water, eliminating the disruption encountered when bottled water runs out.

It’s also important to consider whether your laboratory experiences particularly high water usage periods. Water purification systems can be built with reservoirs that come in various sizes, which help to mitigate problems associated with high demand. The PURELAB Chorus system, for instance, offers reservoir storage of up to 100 litres, ensuring optimal pure water output even in the busiest of labs. Such modular systems mean that reservoir capacity can be expanded easily, should you find your water demands increase.

5. Do I need water in adjoining labs?

It’s also important to consider whether additional labs will need their own access to a high quality water supply. Will their applications be different, and therefore require a different grade of water? Perhaps you’re even looking to install a water purification system for the whole building.

Fortunately, a range of supply options exist, from centralized systems to mains water purified at the point-of-use. Multi-step systems can use a locally pretreated supply that is purified further prior to use. Reservoirs can also be used to supply multiple laboratories with a consistently pure water supply.

6. What is my feedwater like? Has it been tested?

The water purification system you’ll need depends not only on your purity demands, but also on the level of contamination in your feedwater. Some suppliers will check this for you and can offer personal advice on how to match your system to your unique needs.

For applications that require lower grades of water purity, such as Type II and Type III, water purification modules may not require additional feedwater purification. However, for techniques that require a supply of ultrapure Type I or Type I+ water, your feed supply will require pretreatment. The modular nature of the Chorus system means that the CHORUS III purification unit can be used to provide feedwater into downstream, ultra-high purification modules such as the CHORUS I.

7. Can I recycle my old unit?

Existing built-in water purification systems can be large and may involve pipework and infrastructure that is expensive or difficult to remove. One of the benefits of a modular system is that individual units can be easily upgraded and new capabilities installed, without the need to replace the whole system. Such systems can therefore offer benefits in terms of cost and can minimise disruption caused during maintenance.

8. I have equipment that requires water. What type of water do I need?

Type III water is suitable for use for support applications such as autoclaves, steam generators and hydroponics. It’s still important to use a water purification system, which remove dissolved ions and small organics, to ensure these systems remain in good working condition.

On the other hand, analytical instrumentation such as HPLC and other chromatographic methods require ultra-pure Type I+ water. Using poor quality water can introduce particulates into the system which can cause a noisy baseline in measurements. The build-up of particulates can also lead to an increase in back-pressure and cause columns to explode and damage the HPLC pump and injector. For more troubleshooting tips to get the best results from your liquid chromatography experiments, download our tricks and solutions guide [link to troubleshooting whitepaper,].

9. How much space do I have to fit a product?

Even the busiest of labs have more space than you might think! Modular water purification systems push the boundaries of storage confinement and offer flexible options for location. The PURELAB Chorus system, for instance, can sit under a bench, while other system components can be wall-mounted, stacked or even physically separated and connected together to make the best use of nooks and crannies around the lab. Likewise, water storage reservoirs can often be located in unfrequented laboratory spaces.


Build a system tailored to your needs

Now that you know what questions to ask when choosing a water purification system, we hope you’re in a better position to explore the range of options available.

The PURELAB Chorus range of systems are modular, powerful and highly flexible, so you can design and specify the precise system to meet your laboratory’s needs. Our Chorus Configurator guides you through the process, making it easier than ever to build your ideal system.


Top science stories from 2016

From the development of novel biosensors to high-throughput fingerprint analysis, we believe we are approaching one of the most exciting times in analytical science.  We like to engage with scientists on a regular basis to ensure we are up to date with what challenges they face, and therefore thought we would detail some of the most interesting pieces of research we have come across and the top science stories from 2016.   Research that, to us, represents developments that we feel just might prove significant in the years to come.

1.    Development of biosensors for bacterial detection

With the rise of multiple-drug resistant bacteria now reaching an unprecedented level, steps may have to be taken to improve methods for the prevention of bacterial infection, particularly for the most vulnerable among us. The development of effective biosensors offers practical applications for monitoring patients that may be susceptible to infection, and even have non-medical uses, such as process monitoring in material industries.

Label-free biosensors use built-in receptors for the detection of molecules in a particular sample, which can provide a plethora information regarding the presence of a particular substance/microorganism, the substance concentration, and even the target molecule’s binding mechanics.

In June, researchers in China developed an easy to use electrochemiluminescent biosensor for the detection of Staphylococcus aureus – based on the interaction between S. aureus cell wall proteins and the receptor molecules on the biosensor. S. aureus – although common on skin and colonising approximately one-third of the population asymptomatically – has been known to cause serious disease, and methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) has long been deemed a ‘superbug’.

Staphylococcus aureus – normally asymptomatic, but potentially life threatening to the most vulnerable among us.
Staphylococcus aureus – normally asymptomatic, but potentially life threatening to the most vulnerable among us.

Technology like this may one day pave the way towards a new era of medicine, whereby doctors can rely on rapid, easy to use detection methods for some of the world’s most dangerous bacteria.

2.    Antitumor potential for toxins tested in mice

Fusariotoxins are mycotoxins produced by members of the fungal species Fusarium, which have considerable variability in terms of their toxicity. Fusariotoxins Enniatin B (Enn B) Beauvericin (Bea) have recently garnered interest because of their presence as food contaminants, and potential as cancer treatments. Because limited data are available regarding the toxic profile of Enn B and Bea, researchers at the university of Valencia and the University of Vienna aimed to assess the pharmacological behaviour of them in mouse models.

The team developed a liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) method of analysing the toxins’ distribution in the mice, and found no systemic toxicity. They did however identify an interesting pattern of distribution for the toxins. The toxins tended to bioaccumilate in in lipophilic tissue – the highest concentrations having been found in the liver and fat. The study also indicated that the liver and colon were involved in the metabolic activation of Enn B: phase I metabolites for the toxin having been detected in the mice. This means enzymes from the liver have actively altered the structure of the toxin, a process that occurs often, and even leads to the body developing carcinogens from potentially safe ‘pre-carcinogens’ absorbed through the diet or smoking.

Understanding the way in which a potential toxins act once they have gained entry into the body is a vital step in understanding the damage they can potential cause, and the ways in which they may be counteracted. There are often additional benefits to this sort of in-depth characterisation of potential toxins. This study also showed accumulation of the toxins at known tumour sites, highlighting their potential as anti-cancer therapies – the initial hurdle for which is ensuring the drug has a proclivity for accumulating at the tumour site.  Laboratory water plays a key role in LC-MS systems, be it in the preparation of mobile phase or washing of the reagent containers, water free of contamination is essential for ensuring the integrity of experimental results in a technique that is already highly sensitive.

3.    New system for high throughput fingerprint analysis in forensic science

Liquid extraction surface analysis (LESA) is a fairly new mass spectrometry- based surface profiling technique whereby a sample droplet is deposited onto (and held in contact with) a surface using a pipette tip, before being re-aspirated. This technique requires very little sample concentrations, and has very high sensitivity, which has positioned it as a potentially strong technique for the analysis of trace materials – making it a useful technique for forensic analysis.

Using LESA as a basis, researchers have developed a series of assays for the routine analysis of proteins, amino acids, fatty acids, and other compounds that are commonly found in fingerprints. Techniques like this may be useful in the chemical profiling of latent fingerprints using the high-throughput and hugely specific mass-spectrometry based techniques, which will account for the shortfalls of conventional techniques.

So there you have it, 3 stores from 2016 that caught out attention. We hope you agree that this year has already been chock full of great scientific research, and long may it continue!

Effects of drinking water on water purification units

In Dr Paul Whitehead’s previous blog  you learnt about the various standards of drinking water that vary dependent on where in the world you live. However, what effects do these have on your lab water purification systems? Find out more about the potential effects of drinking water on water purification units in this conclusion on drinking water standards.

What you are allowed to drink depends where you live!

Do you drink your tap water? I am sure that your answer will be dependent on where you live. Not only that but what local standards allow will also vary from place to place. This can have a significant impact on the water that feeds your water purification system. Guest blogger Dr Paul Whitehead delves into these global drinking water standards. Don’t forget to check out the next blog in this unit on how these units can effects your units and experiments.

Minimizing Contamination during Sample Preparation for Trace Analysis

With an increase in the sensitivity of applications correlating with a decrease in detection limits, the effects of contamination from a range of sources has become increasingly important. With a number of sources of errors in chemical and trace analyses, how can you ensure that sample preparation contamination is at a minimum? Guest blogger Dr Paul Whitehead looks into how this can be avoided and what to watch out for.

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