Electrophoresis – A Myriad Of Uses

Electrophoresis – A Myriad Of Uses

There is now revived momentum to exploit some of the distinctive advantages electrophoresis can offer. These include scientists hoping to discover robust clinical biomarkers, which will propel the healthcare industry into a new era of personalized medicine.

It may surprise many to learn that electrophoresis is not exactly new. In fact, the separation technique was first developed for use by scientists’ way back in 1807. Since then, researchers, chemists, and technicians have utilized electrophoresis to separate different charged particles with the use of an electric field.

Since the introduction of recombinant proteins in the early 1980s, use of protein therapeutics has expanded and become particularly pervasive throughout the fields of medicine and biotechnology. Advances in electrophoresis are constantly expanding the field of protein analysis. Electrophoresis is a preferred choice for protein characterization because it effectively separates proteins that are not resolved on a chromatogram and allows for further downstream protein characterization. Recent innovations in stain-free electrophoresis greatly reduce impact on characterization workflow. With new technology, laboratory professionals can run samples in <30 minutes. An increasing number of protein therapeutics in the industry necessitates the development of faster, more cost-effective, and generally more effective workflows. Greater competition in this area means that biomanufacturers need to decrease their time to market. The development of new technologies can help meet the demand for new drug products.

As the market continues to grow, protein purification procedures must become viable for both small-scale drug discovery and process-scale applications. Low-cost and sensitive approach for DNA sequencing, the major role of electrophoresis in drug discovery, rising use of electrophoresis techniques as a result of growing importance of antibody research in the development of biotherapeutic are some of the other factors that will drive the use of electrophoresis further in research applications. With the existing innovative technologies and the forthcoming upgradations in these instruments, the market is expected to grow by leaps and bounds.

Global market

The global electrophoresis market is expected to reach USD 2.3 billion in 2020 with gel electrophoresis (GE) accounting for 61 percent and capillary electrophoresis (CE) contributing the rest. The growing trend for DNA profiling will drive the growth prospects for the global gel electrophoresis market for the next 3 years. One of the major factors responsible for the growing need for DNA profiling is paternity testing, which compares the DNA of the offspring of the father. Also, DNA profiling is used in forensic investigations to identify suspects or victims based on crime scene DNA electrophoresis. The increase in forensic research for accurate crime investigations will drive the demand for gel electrophoresis for the analysis of DNA.

The global gel electrophoresis market is highly competitive and diversified due to the presence of a large number of regional and international vendors across the globe. It has been observed that regional vendors find it increasingly difficult to compete against international players based on features such as quality, pricing, market reach, and financial resources. Furthermore, the competitive environment in the market will increase due to the growing number of product or service extensions, product innovations, and M&As.

The laboratory research segment accounted for the majority market share during 2017 and will continue to dominate the market for the next 3 years. The growing demand for personalized medicines and research activities for drug discovery will accelerate the rate of demand for lab analytical instruments such as gel electrophoresis. In addition, the presence of a high number of research laboratories in regions such as North America and Europe providing a high-quality instrument, continuous product improvements, and innovation will also lead to the market segment’s growth.

The prominent companies operating in the market are Bio-Rad Laboratories Inc., Danaher Corporation, Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., Qaigen N.V., PerkinElmer Inc., Sigma-Aldrich Corporation, Harvard BioScience Inc., Agilent Technologies Inc., Helena Laboratories, GE Healthcare, and Shimadzu Corporation. Mergers & acquisitions, partnerships, collaborations, expansions, joint ventures, agreements, new product launches, and others are some of the strategies adopted by prominent companies to strengthen their position in the market.


Techavio defines an emerging trend as a factor that has the potential to significantly impact the market and contribute to its growth or decline. The development of electrophoresis as a separation analysis technique has created a high throughput purification of macromolecules based on their charge and size, thus generating purified molecules. This has led to the increasing use of electrophoresis by pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms, research organizations, hospitals, diagnostic centers, and academic institutions.

The top three emerging trends driving the global electrophoresis reagents market are:

Increasing popularity of personalized medicine. Personalized medicine is the customization of medical treatment to meet the individual need of each patient. Personalized medicine is a multi-faceted method for patient care that not only improves the capacity to diagnose and treat diseases but also offers the potential to identify a disease at an earlier stage when it is easier to treat it effectively.

Increasing use of electrophoresis in proteomics. Proteomics is used for several purposes such as proteome mining, protein expression profiling, structural and functional proteomics, and posttranslational modification studies. Proteomics is the large-scale study of protein features and functions. The goal of proteomic research is to obtain an integrated view of normal and abnormal cellular processes at the level of their essential proteins, for instance, in terms of protein abundance, protein–protein interactions, and their regulatory networks.

Proteomics is divided into two main subcategories, namely protein profiling, which is the identification of specific targets and markers, and functional proteomics, which is the identification of structure, interactions, and functions. Electrophoresis is used in protein profiling studies, as well as in functional proteomic research, where the modification of particular proteins is analyzed during alteration in growth conditions.

Adoption of laboratory automation. Due to cost cutting in laboratory fees, profitability per test is decreasing, which makes it essential for laboratories to focus
on volume rather than value. There is also huge
pressure for quality, error-free results. This compels laboratories to lean toward more automated systems with effective workflow solutions. In the United States of America, laboratories are encouraged for automation due to the heavy influx of patients with insurance coverage.

Automation of the electrophoresis techniques in recent years has led to a rapid adoption of the techniques for various applications. Several studies have shown that electrophoresis techniques have enhanced health and research centers by providing a model for cancer research, screening of anti-cancerous drugs, effects of cytotoxicity, and others.

Way forward

Electrophoresis has become an established analytical tool in the clinical laboratory, forensic laboratory, and biopharmaceutical companies. In these areas, it is expected that developments in CE will particularly focus on further improving the throughput that is, using narrower and shorter capillaries in array format and going from seconds instead of minutes for separation times. CE–MS, over the past few decades, has remained out of the limelight. However, there is now revived momentum to exploit some of the distinctive advantages it can offer. These include scientists hoping to discover robust clinical biomarkers, which will propel the healthcare industry into a new era of personalized medicine. However, some critical hurdles still need to be tackled before it is ready for actual clinical studies. Recent work in the area indicates that electrophoresis is heading in the right direction.

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