History of Capillary Electrophoresis

Beckman Coulter (then Beckman Instruments) introduced the first fully automated capillary electrophoresis system -- the P/ACE™ 2000 -- in 1989. Since that time, the capillary electrophoresis (CE) business from Beckman Coulter, now part of SCIEX, continues to develop the technology, introducing numerous product enhancements and application developments, all of which have contributed to the growing acceptance and application of CE.

CE Milestones:

2017: SCIEX develops new Fast Glycan Labeling and Analysis technology for quantitative glycan analysis in biopharmaceutical characterization. This Fast Glycan technology can analyze glycans. The Fast Glycan technology reduces sample prep to about an hour and delivers separations in minutes - up to 5x faster than traditional HILIC methods –and provides immediate, automated glycan identification using a cost effective workflow.

2015: SCIEX introduces the CESI 8000 Plus, their next generation CESI-MS platform. This new platform further advances CESI-MS, enabling multiple experiments to be generated from as little as 5 microlitres (μL) of starting material. Combining this capability with the multi-segment injection methodology, one can process ten experiments in the time it would normally take to process one, with less than 1 μL consumed. Optional Laser-induced Fluorescence, Diode-Array and Selectable Wavelength UV detector modules are available, enabling off-line method development capability on this platform.

2015: SCIEX launches the P/ACE™ MDQ Plus capillary electrophoresis system. Built upon the technological advances that P/ACE MDQ is well known for, the new P/ACE MDQ Plus design features modular detectors to support flexible research, methods development and rugged routine use. The system is configured standard with a programmable UV/Vis detector, capillary thermoregulation with recirculating liquid, sample temperature control and 36 x 36 buffer array for automated methods optimization.

2013: The capillary electrophoresis (CE) business from Beckman Coulter joins SCIEX. Integrating the Beckman Coulter CE team into the SCIEX separations business unlocks greater potential to extend technology leadership, synergies and contributes to the advancement of biologics, clinical research and academic research for biological applications.

2011:  Beckman Coulter introduces the CESI 8000 High Performance Separation-ESI Module with OptiMS technology consisting of the first commercial CESI sprayer combined with new capillary electrophoresis instrumentation specifically designed for mass spectrometry (MS). CESI is the integration of CE and ESI by a dynamic process within a single device. This gives researchers a robust, high-sensitivity interface of capillary electrophoresis (CE) with mass spectrometry (MS) while providing a broad range of analyte coverage that is complementary to LC-MS and GC-MS. CE works at its best with polar and charged analytes such as drugs, drug metabolites, organic acids, amino acids, low molecular weight amines, peptides, intact proteins, protein complexes, nucleic acids and nucleosides. Molecules often missed or altogether undetectable by technologies, like reversed phase LC-MS, now become visible.

2009:  Introduction of two new kits for anion and cation analysis on the company's P/ACE™ MDQ* and ProteomeLab™ PA 800* Systems. Capillary Electrophoresis (CE) analysis of ions performed using these kits delivers efficient, rapid separations with small sample requirements and short preparation times. The Beckman Coulter Ion Analysis Kits incorporate a unique dynamic coating technology that produces more consistent migration times than other approaches.

Beckman Coulter also introduces the PA 800 plus Pharmaceutical Analysis System which was designed in collaboration with biopharmaceutical development and QC groups. This platform provides analysts with robust and easy-to-use characterization, integrating quantitative, qualitative and automated solutions for protein purity, charge isoform distribution and glycan analysis. During the design of the PA 800 plus, Beckman Coulter emphasized assay portability, enhancing the overall system utility in multi-user, multi-instrument facilities.

In addition, Beckman Coulter starts offering a set of five peptide pI markers for use with cIEF methods on the PA 800 plus Pharmaceutical Analysis System. The pI markers are used to generate a standard curve for more accurate assessment of pI’s.

2008:  Introduction of the PA 800 Enhanced Protein Characterization System, a series of performance enhancements for the PA 800 system. These enhancements provide users a robust and easy-to-use characterization tool for the size separation of proteins, the analysis of carbohydrates, and the determination of protein pI. Innovations have been made in hardware, software and operational supplies.

Beckman Coulter also introduces the newly developed cIEF methods to be used on the PA 800 plus/enhanced Pharmaceutical Analysis Systems and the PA 800 series Protein Characterization Systems. The cIEF methods include optimization of the cartridge aperture, various cIEF chemical components, peptide pI standards, and mobilization technique, paving the way to enhancement of resolution and reproducibility. These system improvements have proven valuable not only in the development of a broad platform method for analysis of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), but also in the enhancement of narrow range cIEF separation methods. Subsequent intermediate precision studies provide compelling evidence that high performance cIEF separations can be achieved throughout the pH gradient.

On the Genetic Analysis front, Beckman Coulter introduces the GenomeLab™ GeXP Quant Tool designed to automate the quantitation of gene expression using the standard curve method, also known as GeXP Quantitative Analysis. In addition to being an easy program to use, Quant Tool offers the power to normalize to more than one housekeeping gene, which is important for accurate gene expression quantitation.

2007:  Introduction of the GenomeLab™ Human STR Primer Set for human DNA sample quality control and contamination control on the CEQ™ & GeXP Genetic Analysis systems. Beckman Coulter also introduces the GenomeLab™ GeXP Rat MultitoxPlex for lead compound toxicology profiling, pre-clinical selection and optimization on the GenomeLab™ GeXP Genetic Analysis system. Further expanding the GeXP menu, Beckman Coulter introduces the GenomeLab™ GeXP Human Breast CancerPlex and Human MetastasisPlex Kits for cancer research. Beckman Coulter also launches the Algorithm Update which includes significant improvements to the CEQ™ versions 8, 9 and GenomeLab 10 Fragment Analysis software.

2006:  Introduction of the GenomeLab™ GeXP Genetic Analysis System for performing multiplex, quantitative, cost effective, high-throughput gene expression analysis. The system includes hardware, software and chemistries for multiplex gene expression analysis. The GeXP chemistries include the GeXP Start Kit for designing custom multiplexes and the Human ReferencePlex Kit which includes a compilation of 24 reference genes and an internal control. Beckman Coulter also introduces the new and improved GenomeLab™ SNPStart Kit based on single base primer extension technology for high fidelity. This cost effective solution includes a single ready to use master mix and software update for more robust SNP data analysis. Also in 2006, Beckman Coulter releases version 8.0 of our 32 Karat Software validated for use on XP workstations.

2005:  Introduction of the GenomeLab™ Methods Development Kit providing a solution that will enable sequencing of difficult templates on the CEQ™ Series Genetic Analysis systems.

2004:  Beckman Coulter also launches the CEQ™ 8800 Software Version 9 providing new tools for advanced genetic data analysis.

2003:  Introduction of the ProteomeLab™ PA 800 Protein Characterization System, including the ProteomeLab SDS-MW Analysis Chemistry, Isoelectric Focusing Chemistry and Carbohydrate Labeling and Analysis Chemistry. In the fall 2003 Beckman Coulter also introduced the ProteomeLab IgG Purity/Heterogeneity assay for use on the PA 800 Platform and the GenomeLab™ CEQ™ 8800 Genetic Analysis System, which features bar code plate recognition, sample tracking, methods link to automated sample preparation and double the operational capacity of the previous system.

2002:  Introduction of the CEQ™ 8000 Genetic Analysis System, featuring one gel, one array and one software, as well as a new primer extension based SNP detection chemistry.

2001:  Version 5.0 32 Karat™ software - adding mobility plots, and mobility/spectrum ID for drug screening applications as well as additional technical controls to assist with 21 CFR Part 11 compliance. The addition of heterozygote detection, mutation detection software and AFLP® applications to the CEQ™ 2000XL platform.

2000:  Beckman Coulter, in collaboration with ThermoQuest*, introduces an integrated CE-MS/MS platform. Beckman Coulter also introduces a new 32-bit software platform for CE - 32 Karat™ Software Version 4.0 -- providing numerous control and analysis functions as well as technical controls for 21 CFR Part 11 compliance. This year also marked the introduction of the CEQ™ 2000XL DNA Analysis System, delivering faster cycle times with longer reads.

1999:  Introduction of a dual-wavelength LIF detection module for the P/ACE™ MDQ, along with new application-specific systems for glycoprotein, carbohydrate and DNA analysis. Specialized Fragment analysis software was introduced for the CEQ™ 2000.

1998:  New highly sulfated cyclodextrins were introduced, along with an external detector adapter and a large-volume buffer tray. Beckman Coulter also developed the first in a series of CD-ROM tutorials on the application of CE technology. Beckman Coulter also launched the CEQ™ 2000 CE-based DNA sequencing system featuring replaceable linear polyacrylamide gels, a multi-capillary (8) separation array, and infrared dyes for sequencing and genotyping.

1997:  Introduction of the P/ACE™ MDQ platform, specially designed for research, methods development and quality control in the biotech/pharmaceutical industry.

1996:  Introduction of both P/ACE™ Station software as well as LIF only application systems. The eCAP™ ssDNA 100-R kit and the eCAP™ N-linked oligosaccharide profiling kit were also introduced this year.

1995:  Introduction of a 635 nm diode laser, as well as the first in a series of chemistry kits for chiral analysis. More new kits were introduced, including the eCAP™ dsDNA 20,000 Kit for the separation of large DNA fragments, and the eCAP™ IEF 3-10 kit for isoelectric point determination. Introduction of the first generation Paragon CZE® 2000 system, a seven-capillary array for clinical serum protein analysis.

1994:  Beckman offers three more chemistry kits - the eCAP™ Amine Capillary Methods Development Kit for small molecules, the eCAP™ Amine Methods Development Kit for proteins and the eCAP™ Neutral Capillary Methods Development Kit.

1993:  Introduction of the P/ACE™ 2200 System, featuring many enhancements including simultaneous voltage and pressure for the purpose of mobilizing pH gradients. This was followed by the aintroduction of the P/ACE™ 5500 system, which featured photo-diode array detection with real time peak purity analysis. Chemistry kits for high sensitivity double-stranded DNA analysis (replaceable gels) were also introduced.

1992:  Introduction of the world's first laser-induced fluorescence (LIF) detector for CE, increasing sensitivity up to 1,000 times over UV detection for fluorescing compounds. Chemistry kits for the size based separation of proteins, as well as a CE-MS adapter, were also introduced. That same year, Beckman developed significant advancements in sample cooling technology for CE.

1991:  Introduction of the first LC-CE system, linking liquid chromatography and CE under the System Gold™ control and analysis workstation. In the same year, Beckman introduced the first in its line of eCAP™ chemistry kits - the ssDNA 100 chemistry for oligonucleotide purity analysis.

1990:  Introduction of the P/ACE™ 2000 detection enhancements and a new rebuildable capillary cartridge design.

1989:  Introduction of the P/ACE™ 2000.

Beckman Coulter, Inc.

Beckman was founded in 1935 by Dr. Arnold O. Beckman with the invention of the acidometer (modern day pH meter), which is probably the most widely used analytical instrument in the world. Today Beckman Coulter is a leading Biomedical Testing Company employing more than 10,000 people around the world, providing service and support in more than 120 countries.

Beckman Coulter, Inc., based in California, develops, manufactures and markets products that simplify, automate and innovate complex biomedical tests. More than 200,000 Beckman Coulter systems operate in laboratories around the world, supplying critical information for improving patient health and reducing the cost of care. Recurring revenue, consisting of consumable supplies (including reagent test kits), service and operating-type lease payments, represent about 78% of the company's 2008 revenue of $3.1 billion.

Common Acronyms

  • ACE -- Affinity Capillary Electrophoresis, a separation technique
  • CE -- Capillary Electrophoresis, a family of techniques
  • CEC -- Capillary ElectroChromatography, a variant of HPLC
  • CGE -- Capillary Gel Electrophoresis, a separation technique based on molecular size
  • CZE -- Capillary Zone Electrophoresis, a separation technique based on charge:mass ratio
  • DAD -- Diode Array Detection, a detection system that aids in sample identification (=PDA)
  • DNA -- Deoxyribo Nucleic Acid, the material that carries the genetic code
  • EOF -- ElectroOsmotic Flow, the electrically induced pumping action in a capillary
  • IEF -- IsoElectric Focusing, a separation technique based on isoelectric point
  • LIF -- Laser-Induced Fluorescence, a highly sensitive detection system

AFLP is a registered trademark of Keygene Corporation.
* All trademarks are property of their respective owners.
For Research Use Only; not for use in diagnostics procedures.