Copan Diagnostics Inc, Murrieta, Calif, introduces the new Walk-Away Specimen Processor (WASP), which uses a single, universal platform to automatically plant and streak most bacteriology specimens such as swabs, urine, and fecal samples, regardless of the specimen type or container style.

The system can run continuously, and every hour it processes at least 180 urine samples, throat swabs, or nasal swabs. Using robotics, the instrument replicates the steps medical technologists perform, from opening specimen containers, to dipping the loop, planting samples, and streaking plates using traditional preprogrammed, quadrant-streaking techniques.

“The launch of the WASP system is aligned with Copan Diagnostics’ vision and its tradition of innovation in pre-analytics, responsiveness to customer needs, and excellence,” said Norman Sharples, the company’s executive VP. “The WASP is a real breakthrough in technology that will revolutionize the way clinical microbiology specimens are processed in the future because of its flexibility, precision, reliability, and impressive volume capacity.”

The system includes a library of textbook-style streaking patterns, or the option to design and save custom streak patterns.

The machine returns to the container any number of times for additional samples if more plates need to be seeded, or it automatically closes the specimen container to move to the next specimen.

Lab technologists only return to the machine when it is necessary to collect finished streaked plates or to load more specimens, which helps them avoid fatigue and repetitive stress injuries from performing the tasks and lets them focus on more esoteric activities that require more skill and independent judgment.

The company invested some $2.9 million in R&D for the product.

Copan manufactures clinical bacteriology and virology collection and transport systems, and offers a range of microbial sampling products, a variety of inoculation loops, needles, spreaders and transfer pipettes, and a new line of flocked swabs, Universal Transport Medium, and Eswab. The company is ISO 9001:2000 certified.