Non-isotopic immunoassays, for all their increasing specificity and sensitivity, remain for biochemists some of the most labor-intensive operations in the clinical/diagnostic lab. The repetitive pipetting of sampies, dilutents, and reagents to and from microtiter plates not only ties up highly qualified staff in tedious procedures but also opens the door to mistakes—a situation ready made for automation.

A degree of automation has already been achieved with systems such as the Biomek 1000 from Beckman Instruments Inc. (see The Scientist, January 23, 1989, page 17) that can automatically pipette, dilute, and dispense samples and reagents, and photometrically read microtiter plates, all in one integrated package of instrumentation. But expected soon on the market are two single instruments that will give the same results and will offer immunologists a facility long enjoyed by their clinical biochemist colleagues, namely “random access” operation. Simply, what this means is the ability to load a...

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