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VOL. 2 Chemistry Analyzers

Advances in pathology have heightened the importance of IVD testing. While there have been dramatic improvements in testing methods, reagents and equipment, human factors can cause many problems in testing systems, including shortages of skilled personnel and data inconsistencies resulting from differing skill levels.

Olympus began to develop chemistry analyzers after clinical testing physicians expressed a wish for Japanese-made systems. We have since produced a wide variety of chemistry analyzers to meet the demand for faster systems with ever greater processing capacities. We will continue to develop new systems to meet other user requirements, including improved economic and environmental performance as well as simplicity.
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High-Volume Systems
ACA-III ACA-III ACA-201 ACA-201 AU5000 AU5000 U5400 AU5400
Medium-Volume Systems
UCA UCA AU500 AU500 U400 AU400    
ACA-III
With its unique U-shaped reaction tube, the ACA-III was perfected in 1969 and was launched in 1971 as the first Japanese-made automated chemistry analyzer. It carried out tests automatically using the same methods as human operators. At that time tests were performed under extremely difficult conditions that would be unthinkable today, including 80 temperature and reagents that included concentrated sulfuric acid. Processing capacity was limited, and the system could only handle four items and process specimens for 60 patients per hour. However, medical professionals were impressed by the ability of the ACA-III to automate the entire testing process. The U-shaped reaction tubes were masterpieces made by a glass craftsman in Tokyo's Asakusa district.
ACA-III
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ACA-201
In the second half of the 1960s, blood banks in Japan ceased purchasing blood and began to obtain blood from voluntary donors, who were considered to be a far safer source. The Japanese Red Cross, which had the task of bulk testing donated blood, had been impressed by the success of the ACA-III and asked Olympus to develop a chemistry analyzer capable of high-speed bulk testing. In 1974 Olympus announced the ACA-201 chemistry analyzer, which was based on the bold concept of linking together multiple analysis modules including aliquoting, agitation, incubation, measurement and washing function and moving the specimen tubes between modules. This product became the foundation for our subsequent development of high-speed, high-capacity automated analyzers.
ACA-201
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AU5000
With the rate assay method, the reaction rate is measured from the start of the reaction between the specimen and a reagent. The AU5000 was a revolutionary product that brought high-speed, high-throughput testing to this previously time-consuming measurement process. Instead of a U-shaped reaction tube, the AU5000 initiated chemical reactions in rectangular containers (cuvettes) that were directly exposed to light to measure the optical density.
AU5400
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AU5400
This large-scale chemistry analyzer is currently in production. For added convenience and cost performance, it uses the same reagents and user interface as medium-sized chemistry analyzers, such as the AU400 and AU640.
AU5400
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UCA
The UCA was the first product to allow automated measurement using the rate assay method, which required the development of many new technologies, including direct photometry. Instead of transferring the specimen from the reaction vessel into the measurement vessel, both the reaction and the measurement are performed in the reaction vessel. Another advance was the dry-bath method, whereby the specimen is held at an even temperature by bringing the test tube into contact with metal that is maintained at the same temperature. This brought major benefits in terms of measurement and maintenance, compared with earlier systems in which the test tube was immersed in a temperature equalization fluid.

Unfortunately the UCA was not a commercial success because of a lack of resources needed to bring it to the required level of perfection. However, technologies developed for the UCA were subsequently employed in the AU Series.
UCA
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AU500
The AU500 was the first analyzer with random-access capabilities allowing the different test items required for each specimen to be measured on a single reaction line. This meant that multiple types of tests could be performed in the same location simply by switching reagents, wavelengths or other parameters. Based on technology developed for the UCA, the AU500 offered unique technical features, including disposable plastic reaction cuvettes, and the ability to dilute concentrated reagents and dispense them into the reaction vessels. It became the basis for future chemistry analyzers.

Olympus subsequently learned that many users considered the disposable reaction cuvettes too expensive to discard, and that the containers were often washed and reused several times.
AU500
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AU400
This random-access analyzer has remained very popular, with over 3,000 now in use throughout the world. The AU400 uses the same reagents and user interface as larger systems, such as the AU5400.
AU400
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Olympus Corporation divested its diagnostic systems business to Beckman Coulter, Inc. as of August 3, 2009.

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