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Lab technology

Lab automation showcased in cross-Canada tour

MONTREAL – Roche Diagnostics announced that the Roche Explorer, a customized transport truck containing a full suite of automated lab equipment, has begun a cross-country trek.

The customized vehicle will visit different Canadian cities to demonstrate to lab professionals how laboratory workflow can be dramatically improved, and quality raised, through the use of a new generation of automated solutions.

The state-of-the-art Roche Explorer showcases the company’s new Cobas analyzers, the modular pre-analytics system, middleware solutions, and Cobas link.

The Roche Explorer will feature the Roche Single Solution, which includes pre-analytics, analytics, and IT solutions. These products work as one integrated system to help maximize lab productivity and efficiency.

“We understand how valuable time and resources can be in the lab, and how difficult it is to leave the lab and travel to see new products,” Christopher Parker, President and General Manager, Roche Diagnostics Canada said. “Our goal is to make the most of our customers’ time by bringing the lab solutions to them – to a location that is convenient and close to home – enabling them to explore the next generation of lab automation from Roche Diagnostics.”

The Roche Explorer Truck will be hosted by labs in each city.
Montreal June 18 & 19
Dr. Elizabeth MacNamara from Jewish General Hospital is hosting the Roche Explorer Truck
Toronto June 24 & 25
Mr. Vince D’Mello from Mount Sinai Hospital and The Foundation of the Estates at Sunnybrook are co-hosting the Roche Explorer Truck
Vancouver – July 8 & 9
Ms. Brenda Jackson and Dr. Heathcote from BC Bio are hosting the Roche Explorer Truck
Calgary – July 15 & 16
The University of Calgary and Dr. Andrew Lyon from CLS are co-hosting the Roche Explorer Truck

Roche Diagnostics, based in Laval, Quebec, recently won a contract to supply Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, in Toronto, with an automated pre-analytic and analytic system. The solution is expected to boost productivity, quality and staff safety at a time of increasing demand for tests and fast results.

Sunnybrook will invest $2 million in the pre-analytic and analytic hardware and instruments. In addition, it will spend about $7 million over the next five years on the reagents needed for testing.

The system can automatically un-cap tubes, split them into smaller samples, conduct up to 140 different types of tests (for blood chemistry and immune-chemistry – the types of tests which account for 80% of the work done in the typical hospital lab) and archive the original samples.

Dan Zortman, Director of Sales and marketing for Roche Diagnostics, said the company currently has installed four automated lab systems in Canada. Five more are expected to be added by the end of 2008, and 10 more in 2009.

He commented that lab automation is helping not only large, urban hospitals, but labs in smaller hospitals, too. “Automation gives smaller labs the ability to perform more tests, and different types of tests, with fewer people,” said Zortman.

He observed that the number of tests, or assays, is quickly growing, as researchers and lab companies bring new solutions to market. Such tests allow doctors to identify potential problems and conditions in their patients and to start treatments at an earlier stage. For its part, Roche will bring out 35 new tests over the next three years.

However, most labs are currently working with a shortage of skilled technicians and technologists, and adding more tests is difficult for them to do – especially when the prep work is being done manually. Automated systems are seen as a cost-effective method of handling an expanding workload, in both large and small laboratories.

 “Automation lets smaller, rural hospitals offer the same range of tests as large, urban hospitals,” said Zortman. “That means the same quality of care for rural patients as for those in large cities.”

About Roche
Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Roche is one of the world’s leading research-focused healthcare groups in the fields of pharmaceuticals and diagnostics. As the world’s biggest biotech company and an innovator of products and services for the early detection, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases, the Group contributes on a broad range of fronts to improving people’s health and quality of life. Roche is the world leader in in-vitro diagnostics and drugs for cancer and transplantation, and is a market leader in virology. It is also active in other major therapeutic areas such as autoimmune diseases, inflammatory and metabolic disorders and diseases of the central nervous system. Additional information is available at and