Large-Scale Protein Purification Down Under

KTAxpress system from Amersham Biosciences of Piscat-away, NJ, a subsidiary of GE Healthcare.

Jun 6, 2005
Emma Hitt
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Courtesy of GE Healthcare

Australia's Monash University recently purchased the world's largest parallel protein purification workstation: a 12-module ÄKTAxpress system from Amersham Biosciences of Piscat-away, NJ, a subsidiary of GE Healthcare. The system can simultaneously purify up to 48 proteins overnight.1

"The ÄKTAxpress allows us to massively scale up what we do in our laboratory at present," says James Whisstock, scientific director of the Victorian Bioinformatics Consortium, the Australian research initiative that purchased the unit for about $500,000 (Australian). According to Whisstock, comparable automated protein purification systems cost millions of dollars. "What's great about the ÄKTAxpress is that it brings high-throughput parallel production capacity to the university-scale budget."

The ÄKTAxpress can purify proteins using affinity chromatography, desalting, ion-exchange chromatography, and gel filtration, or a combination of these methods. "Traditional robotic systems are often limited to a single chromatography step, which can sacrifice purity to achieve high throughput," says Alan Simpson, vice president of marketing, laboratory separations, at GE Healthcare.

The equipment currently supports only two affinity tags, polyhistidine and glutathione S-transferase. Whisstock says these options will likely increase as the technology develops. "Nonetheless," he adds, "I am willing to change my protocols in order to be able to use this system."