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Electrophoresis continues to be an established technique

Electrophoresis is a commonly used method with a wide span of applications. It remains a simple and easy technique for sizing and quantification of nucleic acids and proteins. A series of developments in instrumentation and applications have ensured that electrophoresis is still regarded as a robust technique.

A wide array of identification and separation techniques can isolate macromolecules such as proteins from complex mixtures, facilitating their identification and analysis. The most common separation methods include one- and two-dimensional gel electrophoresis. The technique has continuously evolved and transformed over the years. Gel and capillary electrophoresis systems are routinely applied methods in laboratory and clinical settings. Advanced electrophoresis techniques have been introduced in the past decades to meet the need for separation-based analysis of DNA, RNA, and protein molecules.

The innovative fully automated electrophoresis systems use robotic systems and advanced programming techniques to obtain fast and accurate results, eliminating human errors during the process. Another emerging advancement is microfluidic chip electrophoresis system. Electrophoresis-chip applications include library quality control in next-generation sequencing workflows and a reliable method to replace analytical SDS-PAGE for protein analysis.

Global market
The global electrophoresis equipment and supplies market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 3.8 percent during 2021-2026, as per MarketWatch.

The key players in the global electrophoresis market are Thermo Fisher Scientific, USA; Bio-Rad Laboratories, USA; Merck Group, Germany; Agilent Technologies, USA; Danaher Corporation, USA; GE Healthcare, USA; PerkinElmer, USA; Qiagen N.V., Netherlands; Harvard Bioscience, USA; Shimadzu Corporation, Japan; Lonza Group, Switzerland; Sebia Group, UK; Helena Laboratories, USA; Takara Bio, Japan; Syngene, UK; and Teledyne Technologies, USA.

Rising incidence of cancer, infectious diseases, and genetic disorders; increased funding for research on genomic, proteomic, and electrophoresis techniques; and the rise in number of industry-academia research collaborations continue to be the driving growth factors. The growing use of capillary electrophoresis with mass spectroscopy, increasing use of next-generation sequencing and growing number of clinical, forensic, and research laboratories are other factors contributing to market growth.

The largest share of the market in 2019 among the segments electrophoresis reagents, electrophoresis systems, gel documentation systems, and software was held by electrophoresis reagents. This can be attributed to the increasing utility of consumables along with rise in electrophoresis in the fields of proteomics, genomics, drug discovery, antibody development, personalized medicine, and others.

Researchers have developed novel DNA nanoswitches, which when used with electrophoresis-based separation can provide an inexpensive platform to rapidly detect a wide variety of emerging viruses, including SARS-CoV-2. The programmable DNA nanoswitches bind with viral RNA in human body fluids and are then separated on gel under electric current.

By application, among research, diagnostics, and quality control & process validation, the research segment led the market in 2019 with the largest share. The increasing research in the field of biomarker discovery and NGS is promoting the adoption of electrophoresis systems and consumables.

Geographically, North America is the market leader for electrophoresis and is forecasted to sustain a strong demand. The electrophoresis market in the Asia Pacific is expected to grow at the highest pace in the coming years.

Indian market
The Indian electrophoresis systems market has a good representation from the industry. Trivitron is popular for clinical electrophoresis, its range including manual gel electrophoresis systems, automated gel electrophoresis systems and walkaway capillary electrophoresis systems for the separation of different types of protein & hemoglobin from various types of samples such as serum, blood, urine & CSF.

Anand Scientific Company, Chennai is sought for horizontal electrophoresis systems and other electrophoresis models by laboratories. Shiva Scientific offers Biotec-Fischer’s PHERO-sub models for different types of electrophoresis systems and sample capacity.

HiMedia’s horizontal electrophoresis kits are popular choices by research laboratories. Cole Palmer offers a complete line of electrophoresis products including horizontal and vertical gel electrophoresis systems, reagents, imaging systems, and power supplies.

Automated electrophoresis systems are available from PerkinElmer and the bioanalyzer RNA 6000 nano kits from Agilent Technologies.

Latest from the vendors
In Sept 2020, Promega launched its benchtop capillary electrophoresis instrument, the Spectrum Compact CE system, developed in collaboration with Hitachi High-Tech. This is an integrated DNA analysis instrument that enables life scientists in laboratories of all sizes to perform Sanger sequencing and fragment analysis at the bench. The instrument supports applications in microsatellite instability analysis, mixed sample analysis, forensic STR analysis, and cell line authentication.

Thermo Fisher Scientific introduced its latest forensic laboratory-qualified capillary electrophoresis platform in 2019. Applied Biosystems SeqStudio Genetic Analyzer for Human Identification, an affordable and easy-to-use capillary electrophoresis platform, is able to obtain gold-standard quality STR-based DNA profiles without compromising performance.
Expanding the utility of electrophoresis based techniques, a group of researchers from California Institute of Technology, USA, have recently developed a fully automated microchip electrophoresis analyser. This tool, when incorporated into a planetary rover, could detect organic biosignatures in extraterrestrial soil. The researchers developed a portable, automated, battery-powered, and remotely operated ME instrument coupled to laser-induced fluorescence detection. They reported their findings in ACS’ Analytical Chemistry 2020 about the first application of the system for amino acid analysis coupled to an extraction unit in order to demonstrate automated sample-to-data operation.

Capillary electrophoresis has become a prominent tool for the rapid and efficient analysis of small highly polar compounds and large biomolecules such as DNA, peptides and proteins. Many of these compounds are often analysed with more robust and sensitive systems, such as advanced LC techniques.

Microfluidic-based automated electrophoresis systems require minimal volumes of sample, produce results in shorter time, and needs just a push of a button. Several microfluidic-based systems have been developed to directly couple with HPLC and mass spectrometer, to enable automated separation of biomolecules in the chip and detection in the mass spectrometer.

Overall, electrophoresis is a separation technique that can single out biomolecules or charged particles of interest, based on their mobility in a given electric field. The mobility can be a reflection of the characteristics of the biomolecules or particles of interest or result from their interaction with another molecule. When combined with other techniques, electrophoresis can create a powerful and all-round tool that is applicable to research, routine analysis, and diagnosis.

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