Zinsser Analytic and Eli Lilly and Company ("Lilly") designed, developed and successfully implemented a fully automated platform to automate Solid Phase Extraction (SPE) for sample pre-purification. SPE, the first step in their high-throughput purification strategy, has proven to be of great success in terms of both, efficiency and cost-effectiveness (e.g. single preparative LC/MS injection per sample and lack of system downtime due to the high quality of the SPE isolated material).
Solid Phase Extraction (SPE) in chemistry research laboratories is usually performed in semi-automated or even manual mode due to the lack of fully automated solutions capable of handling the amount of material generated at the working scales of Drug Discovery. Although SPE work can be efficiently performed, mostly if applying generic protocols, it still distracts chemists from more value-added tasks, such as molecule design. Lilly was looking for a platform able to perform the entire workflow in a fully automated manner. Zinsser Analytic was the only manufacturer with the engineering skills and flexibility willing to collaborate. on the design and development of the customized SPE workup solution that could meet all the customer’s specific requirements. This strong collaborative effort provided a unique approach in laboratory automation that is expected to push the boundaries of what is possible in the industry. The novel fully automated platform, equipped with modular tools to fit into the customer’s process, moves materials from crude reaction mixtures to dried SPE collected fraction(s) without human intervention, with required labware made available to the system in an automated manner by an external robotic arm.
The time required to complete a sample depends on reaction scale, both the number and volume of SPE conditioning and elution steps, etc. The time can also depend on the number of samples being processed simultaneously in the platform (continuous process where multiple samples can be run at the same time, each at a different step, but in case of those steps that can be run in parallel such as evaporation or SPE itself).
Properly performed SPE simplifies the entire analytical purification workflow. In addition to a significant reduction of the amount and the complexity of the material to be purified by preparative LC/MS, SPE removes impurities that are either responsible of most LC/MS blockages / system downtime (e.g. catalysts) or demand a significant analytical LC/MS method development effort to find conditions for successful LC/MS scaleup (e.g. impurities eluting very close to COI). Using both the new platform and the appropriate SPE protocols, crude reaction mixtures can be pre-purified in fully automated fashion and with exceptional results: COI can be isolated at purity >98% with standard values ranging from 75 to >90% depending on the complexity of the crude reaction mixture.
Our broad variety of available tools is making it possible to automate complex workflows.