Trying to cast a wider net in the proteomics market, Fujifilm Life Sciences last week launched the FLA-9000 flatbed image scanner, calling the system its “flagship” proteomics instrument.
Also called Starion, the system builds upon an earlier instrument, the FLA-5100. And while the platform has applications in other research areas, Fujifilm is marketing it as an instrument offering “unparalleled proteomic applications” in imaging.
The FLA-9000 is available in three models: the IP Model for storage phosphor imaging; the RGB Model for multi-spectral 2D gel imaging; and the IR + IP Model for near-infrared and radioisotope imaging.
It also offers five excitation wavelengths — 473 nm, 532 nm, 635 nm, 685 nm, and 785 nm — and a dynamic range of up to five orders of magnitude.
While Fujifilm is not looking to replace the ABIs and Thermo Fisher Scientifics of the proteomics world, the development of the FLA-9000 is an “intensified effort” by the company to reach out to proteomics researchers, said Shanawaz Khan, general manager of the life science group for the company.
“We do see the needs for imaging products of our kind by the proteomics customer increasing,” he said. “And so we have to access that [and ask ourselves], ‘What are some of the other new products that we can come out with?’”
According to John Pizzonia, director of applications for Fujifilm Life Sciences, a division of Fujifilm Medical Systems USA, the concept behind the FLA-9000 “was basically to produce an instrument that would meet a lot of different needs within your proteomic application world and do that in a single instrument.
“The real value point is having the ability to perform all these different applications in a single instrument rather than having to purchase two or three instruments between $50,000 and $100,000 a pop. You can purchase this single instrument and be able to perform all these applications on it,” he said.
Pizzonia declined to quote a price for the instrument but said it is priced to be competitive with the Typhoon Trio imager from GE Healthcare, a direct competitor to the FLA-9000, which also competes against the Odyssey infrared imaging system from LI-COR Biosciences.
“In designing this system and bringing it to market, the idea was basically to produce an instrument that would meet a lot of different needs within your proteomic application world and do that in a single instrument.”
In proteomics, Fujifilm is more of a role player than an industry leader, and according to Khan, it is not setting out to make a major push into the field.
“The products that we make are not proteomics focused,” he said. In life sciences, Fujifilm has a greater presence in the X-ray space, Pizzonia said. Coupling technology Fujifilm developed for X-ray imaging with “the hardware technology on the scanner side” resulted in instruments with new capabilities, including the FLA-9000.
“We’re trying to optimize that for the current state of basic science research and proteomics — gels and blots — as well as continue to develop it for radiologic purposes,” he said.
In addition to protein identification, the FLA-9000 has applications in fields in which fluorescence labeling is used such as cancer research and neuroscience research. Fujifilm, however, is marketing the instrument as “its flagship, multipurpose imaging system” for proteomics.
“It’s a fairly horizontal product, but what we found is that as we look at our customer base, we consistently see demand from the proteomics folks, so we’ve been able to take some of these specific needs that the proteomics folks have and put them in the package that we’ve come out with,” Khan said.
The FLA-9000, he added is “the most prominent … the leading product that we have for the proteomics market.”
In particular, Pizzonia said, the instrument is directed at improving the workflows for 2D gel-based imaging — in addition to allowing researchers to work with any label now on the market, the FLA-9000 was designed to be flexible enough to accommodate new labeling technologies as they become available.
One advantage of the system, he said, is that its proprietary file format “produces a log file representation of what amounts to very large data sets,” which can span five orders of magnitude. The file log representation, Pizzonia said, “is more accurate than other file formats [such as] .tif or .gel, [and] provides a more accurate representation of these very large data sets.
“If you were to look at that dynamic range in a linear .tif file format, the representation of the low-end data relative to the high-end data can be sometimes misleading. With the log file format, it is more accurately represented,” he said.