Dynamic Imaging Particle Analysis Blog

Ensuring Optimal Particle Analysis Results with Protein Samples

By Ben Spaulding, Laboratory Manager

In the pharmaceutical industry, there are many regulations and standards that are imposed on products and processes. Among these are U.S. Pharmacopeia Convention 788 Standard (Particulate Matter in Injections) and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration CFR Title 21 Part 211 (Current Good Manufacturing Practice for Finished Pharmaceuticals). The former standard can play a key role in biochemistry, assay, and formulations departments in both minor and major pharmaceutical companies.

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Topics: Protein Therapeutics, Particle Analysis Lab

We've selected our 2014 Algae Technology Research Grant Recipient

We've awarded our 2014 Algae Technology Research Grant to Coral J. Fung Shek, M.S.E. Candidate, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Johns Hopkins University. Her proposal, Design and Establishment of Artificial Lichens for Biofuels, was selected after a series of in-depth reviews by a panel of independent industry experts in the Algae Technology field. Congratulations, Coral!

Judging criteria included scientific merit, appropriate use of the FlowCam® and the ability to obtain measurable results during a research period of four months. 

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Topics: Algae Technology

Imaging particle analysis helps phytoplankton diversity studies

Joaquim_GoesJoaquim Goes is a Research Professor at Columbia University in the Department of Marine Biology and Paleo Environment at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. He’s a biological oceanographer with interests spanning from phytoplankton cellular biochemistry to large-scale oceanographic processes. A recent example of his work is from the Arabian Sea, where Goes and his team began observing massive outbreaks of algal blooms during the winter monsoon. Goes and his team, in collaboration with a team of scientists in India, were able to report that these blooms were taxonomically unlike any bloom species reported before and that their appearance every year was causing a loss of phytoplankton diversity. With the help of shipboard and laboratory experiments, Goes and his colleagues were able to find out that the spread of low oxygen into the upper sun lit layers of the Arabian Sea was causing these blooms.

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Topics: Aquatic Research

Particle characterization helps deliver uniform carbon nanotube products to customers

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are low density, flexible, electrically conductive materials, with individual tubes having relatively high tensile strength. Nanocomp Technologies, Inc. produces carbon nanotubes in the form of sheets, tapes, powders, dispersions, and yarns. Nanocomp's products are used for aerospace, aviation, armor, and flame-resistant applications.

Carbon nanotubes are hollow, tubular cylinders of aromatic carbon atoms that exhibit distinct mechanical, electrical, thermal, and chemical properties. Individual tube diameters are ~10 nm with lengths of ~1 mm. Nanocomp’s CNTs have tremendous aspect ratios; thousands of times greater than other commercially available carbon nanotubes.

Part of producing the carbon nanotube powders and slurries involves a proprietary, surfactant-free dispersion process. The result of this process is bundles of CNTs that are ~100 um in width and ~1000 um in length. That’s where Joe Johnson, Ph.D., the Principal Scientist at Nanocomp comes in. He oversees the dispersion and particle labs, as well as related applications like paints, composites and polymers. He’s been with the company for three years, but his background includes over 20 years of experience working with anything involving particles including synthesis, modification, product development, applications, and characterization.

The Challenge
Dr. Johnson wanted an instrument that would help with determining the grinding quantification of carbon nanotubes. Nanocomp’s CNT production procedure results in non-woven sheets being made, with the CNTs held together mainly by van der Waal’s forces. An analogy, although using vastly different forces and scale, would be having many Velcro® tapes being pushed together forming a sheet. A grinding device was previously identified to “rip” the nanotubes from each other resulting in fibers, or bundles of CNTs. Previous experiments identified process conditions (e.g., CNT concentration and instrument conditions). The time of grind to achieve small, uniform fibers was unknown, so a study was planned that would measure particle size vs. grind time. Dr. Johnson needed a quantifying instrument that could accurately measure the width, length, aspect ratio, ESD (equivalent size diameter), and their distributions for dispersed carbon nanotubes.

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Topics: Industrial Applications

Studying copepods and phaeocystis to understand climate and food webs

Hans H. Jakobsen, Ph.D is a senior researcher in the Department of Bioscience, Marine Diversity and Experimental Ecology at Aarhus University in Denmark. His list of published papers and articles is extensive and impressive. 

Studying Copepods

Much of Dr. Jakobsen’s work involves the study of grazer interaction among plankton organisms. He’s about to start a small project with his colleagues at neighboring Roskilde University where they will follow the dynamics in copepod rearing tanks. 

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Topics: Algae Research, Marine Algae, Oceanographic Research, Aquatic Research

How Sensitivity Can Impact Protein Aggregate Characterization

When performing sub-visible particle analysis of protein therapeutics, you need to be able to separate protein aggregates from silicone droplets and other contaminants. The ability to properly identify and enumerate protein aggregates, especially in the 2 to 10 micron range, is of utmost importance.

One challenge with protein aggregate characterization stems from their semi-transparency. For this reason, they are often mis-characterized or not even seen by light obscuration systems.

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Topics: Protein Therapeutics

Technologies for plankton identification and monitoring

A recent article in ECO Magazine by Kira Coley of Planet Ocean provides a great overview of what’s happening in the world of plankton identification and monitoring technologies, especially how it relates to climate change. Thanks to many new advances, there’s now a suite of automated technology aimed at observing and measuring plankton in real time, from both above and below the surface waters.

Researchers have found that rising temperatures in the world’s oceans will affect carbon cycles as well as the abundance and function of the plankton on which most marine life feeds. Monitoring long-term variability of planktonic communities can also strengthen ecosystem response models.

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Topics: Algae Research, Marine Algae, Oceanographic Research, Aquatic Research

Optimizing Anaerobic Digestion at Wastewater Treatment Plants

A wastewater treatment plant in Augusta, Georgia used a dynamic imaging particle analysis system to monitor the condition and presence of methanogens in their anaerobic digestion process to find a potential correlation with methane production.  

The goal? To find a way to optimize anaerobic sludge digestion and ultimately improve anaerobic digester performance in wastewater treatment plants.

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Topics: Process Water

Why Image Quality Matters When Characterizing Protein Therapeutics

Particulates in parenteral drug development are a serious issue. In biopharmaceuticals the issue is compounded by reported impacts of protein aggregates and particles on the product’s efficacy, safety, and immunogenicity.  As more research is done, characterizing protein aggregates in biologics is becoming an important consideration during forumlaulation.

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Topics: Protein Therapeutics

How Samples are Processed in our Particle Analysis Laboratory

Receiving Samples in our Particle Analysis Lab

Our particle imaging laboratory is equipped with the latest FlowCAM® instruments and software to offer you state-of-the-art particle analysis services. We’re able to process samples on-site, and our lab receives new samples every day. As soon as your sample arrives, a technician logs that it has been received and it’s entered into our database. After a sample has been logged, it undergoes its first test — a physical inspection of the container to make sure it's in good condition and hasn’t been damaged during transit. 

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Topics: Dynamic Imaging Particle Analysis, Particle Analysis Lab