A biochemisty analyser is a device designed to perform a variety of biochemical tests. Invented by Hans Baruch, they were introduced to the medical community, commercially, in 1959, and allowed medical laboratories and hospitals to process more samples more quickly and effectively than before. With this automated testing process, the testing time went from days – sometimes weeks – to mere minutes.
Before then, the most common form of biochemical analysis involved open test tubes placed in racks which were then either moved along a track or spun in a carousel. To protect the samples from contamination, and the laboratory staff from illness or injury, closed tube sampling soon followed. The automated biochemistry analysers did not remove the need for clinical lab technicians, however, but it did make working in the labs safer, and helped reduce errors.
There are a variety of tests a biochemistry analyser performs. They can range from testing enzymes for liver function tests, to testing ions for sodium and potassium levels. Blood glucose, creatine, and serum albumin – a plasma protein – among others, can also be analysed.
There are three categories of biochemistry analysers: The wet type, the dry type and the bio sensor. The wet type method involves mixing a test sample with a reagent to encourage a chemical reaction. A reading device, such as a spectrophotometer or a calorimeter can then be used to read the color change before and after the reaction, allowing for analysis. However, this form of testing requires expensive instruments and the ability to keep the reagents valid for long periods of time.
The dry type biochemistry analyser requires the application of a chemical reagent to a test strip, such an antibody or enzyme, which will react directly with the test sample. With the dry type of testing there is a greater risk of oxidation of the test strip which can allow for faulty readings.
When using a biosensor type biochemistry analyser, the test sample may be oxidized and placed on a thin film which is placed onto the surface of an electrode, such as pillar hydrogen peroxide, which is among the most common, and then a polarized potential is applied to the anode and cathode, which releases elctrodes, which may be measured. However, the pillar electrodes require constant maintenance which can lead to cross pollution which can lead to mistaken readings.
Some tests require more specialized tests and require a separate biochemistry analyser. This analyser may be used for several tets, or a single test. Some of these are performed frequently, but others are not, and the majority are expensive to perform, as well as time consuming. Due to the shortage of skilled clinical laboratory professionals, manufacturers are working to develop automated systems for these rare tests.
With the recent contributions in biology, chemistry and genetics, the biochemistry analyser has been evolving and improving. Biochemical research is being pushed, and is now moving from the study of a few molecules to the functional study of all biomolecules. Today, biochemical analysers are being used to help tag proteins and nucleic acids with special dies thhat allow scientists to make great headway in their quest to sequence the human genome.