Because traditional HPLC is slow, high-throughput drug discovery often hits a bottleneck when large numbers of reaction products are assayed. This bottleneck can be eased by techniques such as microparallel liquid chromatography (μPLC), in which samples are assayed in parallel using microfluidic technology.
But moving liquids through tiny tubes poses special challenges, too, such as troubleshooting for tiny leaks. In Pasadena, Calif.-based Nanostream's Veloce system, these challenges are overcome by using ready-made, plug-in cartridges with all the microplumbing preinstalled, including the HPLC columns
Each Brio cartridge incorporates 24 HPLC columns packed with standard (C18) stationary-phase material. The new cartridges sport shorter columns (3 cm instead of the original 8 cm), accelerating the separation process. Using the system's eight-head autosampler, Nanostream claims that analysis times can be as little as 15 seconds per sample.