Agilent Technologies introduces first fully automated Lab-on-a-Chip system for life science research

Agilent 5100 provides unattended analysis of thousands of DNA and protein samples per day

PALO ALTO, Calif., Nov. 3, 2004

Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) today introduced the industry's first fully automated, high-throughput Lab-on-a-Chip system for basic life science research and drug discovery. The Agilent 5100 Automated Lab-on-a-chip Platform provides unattended analysis of thousands of DNA and protein samples per day.

The system is designed to replace tedious, time-consuming gel electrophoresis, thereby facilitating large-scale genomic and proteomic applications. Although one of the oldest and most widely used analytical techniques, gel electrophoresis suffers from a lack of automation, low reproducibility and difficulties in comparing data.

The Agilent 5100 provides two key advantages over gel electrophoresis -- full automation and reproducible, digital data. The system automates the entire electrophoresis workflow of sample handling and analysis, lowering per-sample analysis time by a factor of 10 and allowing unattended analysis of up to 3,840 samples per run. It minimizes sample and reagent use, which reduces hazardous waste and per-sample cost.

Unlike the highly variable, subjective data of gel electrophoresis, the Agilent 5100 provides reproducible, comparable data due to its automation and use of internal reference standards. The digital data can be archived and data-mined with multiple filters and queries. All data is stored within an Oracle(r) database, which enables users to easily analyze millions of data points and thousands of samples.

"The potential advantages of this unit to our operation are immense," said Neil Winegarden, head of operations for the microarray center of the Ontario Cancer Institute, Toronto. "We believe this unit will allow us to have much greater control over our QC procedures, providing higher-quality data over our traditional methodologies."

The Agilent 5100 processes samples from industry-standard 96- or 384-well plates, 10 of which can be inserted at a time. An automated, robotic handling mechanism loads the sample with reagents and internal reference standards onto a microfluidic chip for separation and detection. The system software automatically analyzes the results, generating high-quality digital data as well as a gel-like image and electropherogram. All resources required for analysis, including samples, reagents, chips, and pipette tips, are stored within the benchtop instrument.

Two assays, consisting of chip and reagents, are initially available for the Agilent 5100:

  • The DNA 1000 HT-4 kit for qualitative and quantitative verification of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and multiplex PCR samples or for screening of double-stranded DNA fragments.
  • The Protein 200 HT-2 kit for sizing and quantification of proteins during purification or protein expression experiments.

Each Agilent 5100 chip can be reused several thousand times before replacement.

More information, including video demonstrations, about the Agilent 5100 platform is available at


The Agilent 5100 Automated Lab-on-a-chip Platform is available now.

About Agilent's Lab-on-a-Chip Technology

Agilent Technologies' lab-on-a-chip technology is based on the principles of microfluidics, the manipulation of minute amounts of liquid in miniaturized systems. In the life sciences, lab-on-a-chip devices enable various qualitative and quantitative biochemical analyses to be conducted quickly and efficiently with minimum handling by the user. The inside of a lab-on-a-chip device consists of circuits of tiny closed channels and wells, etched onto a glass or plastic microchip. Pressure or electrokinetic forces push samples through selected pathways in a controlled manner. The process separates the sample components for subsequent detection.

Agilent introduced the first commercial lab-on-a-chip system, the Agilent 2100 bioanalyzer, in 1999. Since then, Agilent lab-on-a-chip systems have become a standard in many industries, with more than 1 million bioanalyzer chips sold.

About Agilent Technologies

Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) is a global technology leader in communications, electronics, life sciences and chemical analysis. The company's 28,000 employees serve customers in more than 110 countries. Agilent had net revenue of $6.1 billion in fiscal year 2003. Information about Agilent is available on the Web at

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Christina Maehr
+1 408 553 7205