High Performance Liquid Chromatography: Prominence-i

Taiho Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.

Taiho Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.


    Life Science, Small Molecule Pharmaceutical




The Discovery and Preclinical Research Division (Tsukuba area) of Taiho Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. is a core institute regarding the discovery and development of distinguished compounds for brand-new drug candidates.
We interviewed two researchers from the API Basic Research Laboratory regarding their opinions about the "Prominence-i" LC System, which was released last year.


Taiho Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.

Ms. Keiko Yamane (left in the photo) , Analytical researcher
Ms. Chikako Konatsu (right), Analytical researcher.
API Basic Research Laboratory, Discovery and Preclinical Research Division (Tsukuba area) of Taiho Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.

*Affiliates and titles of the interviewee are current as of the time of reporting.

Taiho Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.
URL http://www.taiho.co.jp/english/

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Please tell us why you ultimately decided to purchase Prominence-i?

Yamane : In our laboratory, we often transfer methods to other sections in our company and outsourcing contractors. Last year, i-Series systems were released and Shimadzu promoted its ability for simpler method transfer. Shimadzu offered us a demonstration of the system and we decided to try it.
Since the results were so comfortable, we purchased two Prominence-i systems. Actually, we did not plan to purchase Shimadzu instruments at all until Shimadzu provided us the demonstration.

So, method transfer went smoothly?

Yamane : Yes. Using the same method created by another manufacturer's instrument, we analyzed a sample both on that instrument and a Prominence-i demo unit, and detected equivalent peaks at the same exact retention time. This confirmed that the system's capacities are matched.

You have ultra high performance LC (UHPLC) units as well and you chose a general-purpose type this time. What purpose do you use the Prominence-i for?

Taiho Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd._Interview
Konatsu : We use it mainly for analyzing trace amount of impurities. In our laboratory, we develop basic analytical methods of new drug candidates for development. As the development proceeds, related sections and contractors become involved. However, some of them do not have UHPLC units. If we develop methods just only for UHPLC, we would be required to convert them to methods appropriate for general-purpose LC in such cases. So, general-purpose LC units are still more convenient for us.

What is your current ratio of general-purpose LC units to UHPLC units?

Yamane : For reversed phase, the ratio of general-purpose LC units to UHPLC units is almost equal in our Lab.

Prominence-i has a completely new design and functions. What do you think about them after using it?

Yamane : I really like the color touch panel shown in Japanese and love that you can open the maintenance manual from the touch panel.
Konatsu : I also appreciate the touch panel because we can use it intuitively. We purchased one system for process testing for that reason. It is nice that process chemists in our laboratory can also operate the system intuitively. For example, "press here for the pump" or "press here for the lamp."

Do you use the touch pen?

Yamane : Yes we do. It is really convenient because you can attach it to the instrument since it has a magnet.

Is method setting easier now with the new quick batch function?

Yamane : Actually, I use the previous version to develop methods because I'm used to it. But, the new window is easier to operate during analysis because it is more graphically oriented.
Konatsu : Our process chemists would rather favor the new window.
Yamane : Graphical indication is easy to understand. It's nice that we don't need to read characters.
Taiho Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd._Interview

You use PDA detectors, don't you?

Konatsu : Yes we do. I had an impression that UV detectors provide clear baselines and PDAs provide slightly rougher baselines, but I recognized that the PDA data on the Prominence-i is clearer than I had expected.
Yamane : Noise is also less. Compared to other manufacturers' PDAs, peaks are much more discriminated and detected at a higher sensitivity.

I believe you deal with a great number of samples. Did you recognize how fast samples are injected (short cycle time)?

Konatsu : Yes, we did. When we use other manufacturers' instruments, given that analysis takes 35 minutes per sample and we have ten samples, total analysis would never finish in 350 minutes (35 × 10). When we use Prominence-i, however, I feel that the analysis finishes in a much shorter time. The needle moves quickly to take samples along the shortest pathway. It is very helpful because the analysis process is a race against time.
Yamane : I also like the simplicity of placing samples. When we start a sequence first and add a sample later, we can quickly open the cover and place the sample in just one action. Prominence-i beeps when you close the cover to notify you that the sample is in. This startled me at first but I quickly got used to it.

What do you think about the sample capacity? Are 216 samples enough?

Yamane : It is satisfactory for our laboratory now.
Konatsu : We don't have any problems because we do not conduct dissolution tests or any other types of testing that require more capacity.

How do you like the instrument design?

Yamane : I really like it. It represents the design concept of a "next-generation laboratory" well.
Konatsu : I like it too.
Taiho Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd._Interview

Do you have any requests for Prominence-i?

Konatsu : I have an idea that may sound like a dream, though I imagine it will become true in the near future. Wouldn't it be great if you could remotely operate the instrument from your home? Then you could start the instrument using your smartphone, commute during equilibration, and start analysis as soon as you get to work.

If your company's laboratory system is not closed, monitoring and controlling are enabled under a Wi-Fi environment. If you simply want to prepare the instrument, however, you can keep it in standby in the eco mode with less power consumption at night and have the instrument start up automatically. Power consumption of Prominence-i can be lowered to 95 % when it is not used. Although the idea to reduce power consumption may sound like a Japanese way of thinking, the energy-saving performance has been highly-evaluated by pharmaceutical companies outside Japan. They say that the power-saving function is important because the difference in the total power consumption is great when 100 or 200 units are used.

All customers appreciate that the instrument requires only a small footprint.

Yamane : It certainly is small, which I definitely appreciate.
Konatsu : Purging is easy on this instrument. Once you select the line you want to purge and operate the touch panel, purging is automatically started.
Yamane : Prominence-i is well-suited for beginners rather than experienced users.
Konatsu : I agree. I really like the compact size and simple operations. If I had to point out one thing, sometimes I would like to use more columns.

Although up to six columns can actually be connected, it feels a little cramped.

Yamane : Currently, three columns are connected to a column oven through a switching valve. The system perfectly suits what we want to do.

Thank you. By the way, what do you think about our support system?

Yamane : Support personnel comes quickly after we contact them.
Konatsu : Yes, they're really fast. Shimadzu's user support is much better than any other manufacturers. When we contact their office, we can talk with a person in charge immediately and they visit us promptly. This alleviates a lot of stress for us.
Yamane : We can get support directly whenever we have a problem. So, we think of Shimadzu products first when we need to buy new instruments.
Konatsu : Distributors also provide excellent support services.
Yamane : Since distributors are knowledgeable about the instruments, we can even ask them technical questions, which is very helpful. I'm also impressed with the distinguished collaboration between Shimadzu and its distributors.

The sales personnel of your distributor are extraordinary, they can even repair instruments.

Yamane, Konatsu : We look forward to continuing our great relationship.

Thank you very much for your time today.

Taiho Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd._Interview

Comments About the Interview

Prominence-i (i-Series)


Since the concept of the i-Series systems was compact and stylish, we focused not only on the performance but also on the product design. That may be why people in the API Basic Research Laboratory of Taiho Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. call the instrument by the nickname "i-chan", different from conventional HPLC systems. We performed a demonstration to transfer methods of another manufacturer's HPLC systems for the first time in the Kanto area. I still cannot forget the joy I felt when the chromatograms of the other manufacturer's HPLC systems were reproduced on our instrument.
We will work hard to provide even better support services so that our instruments can be operated smoothly all the time.

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