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Ensuring Performance, Intelligence and Sustainability in MS

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At this year’s American Society for Mass Spectrometry Annual Conference (ASMS), Technology Networks spoke with Ken Suzuki, vice president and general manager of the mass spectrometry (MS) division, and Jennifer Gushue, associate vice president of MS marketing at Agilent Technologies, to learn more about Agilent’s latest product launches. We also discuss how Agilent is addressing ever-changing customer needs with novel “intelligence” features and the company’s efforts to ensure the sustainability and longevity of its products. 

Addressing customer needs

At ASMS 2023, Agilent announced the launch of two new LC-MS systems; the triple quadrupole LC-MS (LC-TQ) and the Revident LC-QTOF, which aim to provide greater sensitivity, speed and robustness to their users.

“We always start by identifying the ultimate performance metric, and for us, it’s about bringing intelligence to the technologies so that our customers get a high-performance piece of equipment that’s easy to use, easy to maintain and always at peak performance,” said Gushue. “Technology that’s available on the market now enables us to drive instrument intelligence.” The Revident QTOF instrument, for example, has been built to be completely modular, enabling fast and efficient servicing such that engineers can provide a higher level of support to customers.

Agilent’s approach to supporting their customers has continued over time, from providing complex data on system maintenance, operation and data management, to helping researchers to troubleshoot, to making software easier to use and now, Suzuki emphasized, “we’re moving into the age where interpretation of data is where customers need help.” 

Spanning different markets

The applications of the new LC-MS systems are varied, from PFAS analysis, molecular biology experiments to alternative foods and battery analysis. PFAS – also referred to as “forever chemicals” – were a key focus at this year’s event as an increasing global problem. For researchers working in regulatory labs, the new LC-MS instruments make the analysis of low-abundance species more routine and accessible, helping them to keep up with the evolving regulatory landscape.

Agilent wants to ensure that researchers have access to the right workflows for PFAS analysis and discovery. “Right now, there are thousands and thousands of PFAS that aren’t well-characterized, and regulations only cover a handful,” Gushue emphasized. “Many researchers are talking about how they can characterize emerging, unregulated PFAS.”

Beyond environmental analysis, Gushue also highlighted that Agilent remains focused on the biopharma industry, especially in light of the recent COVID-19 pandemic. “We can’t lose sight of the pharma industry, which is so important,” she said. The new LC-MS systems from Agilent aim to match the “rapid pace of development” in the biopharma and pharma space, with informatics and software to support instrument performance. By addressing the challenges of the rapid pace of development in biopharma, Suzuki adds that he believes these advancements “translate into other areas.” 

Towards greener labs 

In addition to pursuing excellence across its products, Agilent is also incredibly concerned with sustainability. In 2022, it commissioned a sustainability survey conducted by the international market research firm Frost & Sullivan.

The Agilent Independent Global Lab Sustainability Survey

The survey adopted a two-phased approach: 100 qualitative phone interviews were conducted, followed by 500 online interviews. The survey participants included experienced lab personnel in Asia, Europe, the United Kingdom and the United States, working across all of the lab types and market segments served by Agilent. The primary functions of the labs included were analytical services, methods development or validation, process control, monitoring or manufacturing, quality assurance or control, research and clinical testing.

The survey asked scientists about their approaches to sustainability, their views on vendors and the commitments they are making to be more sustainable. The results are promising in our pursuit towards greener labs, with 82% of participants already having adopted sustainability measures. “It’s important that we share these results with the wider community as we are all on the journey to be more sustainable,” Victoria Wadsworth, associate vice president of Reputation Marketing at Agilent, said. “By sharing these learnings, we can spark richer conversations and share best practices that bring everyone closer to their goals. It’s the right thing to do for business and our planet.”

Alongside the survey initiative, Agilent is also pushing for sustainability through its certified pre-owned instrument scheme, which offers a lower price point for customers through refurbishing and reselling pre-owned instruments. “The scheme offers a second – or even third life – to lab equipment and ensures it is disposed of correctly,” said Suzuki. 

What does the future look like?

Over the next 12 months, Agilent remains focused on providing intelligence across its portfolio, including platforms and software. 

As regulations within industries change, the Agilent team said it is committed to maintaining contact with regulatory agencies and their customers to make sure different provisions are advanced to keep up with any regulatory changes, such as for PFAS analysis.

The team at Agilent is also ensuring that the major platform launches of the two new LC-MS systems are “fully supported in applications and by developing software”, said Suzuki.

Jennifer Gushue and Ken Suzuki were speaking to Molly Campbell, Senior Science Writer for Technology Networks.