All posts by Pickering Laboratories

Flashy Fun Content Hitting the Web – Amino Acids Analysis and the Onyx PCX

By Maria Ofitserova

Normally, summer and fall would mark our busy travel season with several important conferences and trade shows to prepare for and attend. With the majority of conferences cancelled, rescheduled or moved to virtual platforms, we are staying close to home and focusing on supporting our customers as they navigate the fast-changing COVID-19 pandemic situation.

After introducing the Onyx PCX at Pittcon in March 2020, we are happy to report positive feedback from users of our newest post-column derivatization instrument. One of our goals when developing the Onyx PCX was to ensure a seamless transition of methods from the Pinnacle PCX to the new model. This allows companies to minimize validation steps when switching to the Onyx PCX and early customer responses show our efforts were worth it! Our extra attention to this during design is definitely being appreciated now by laboratories who already have the Pinnacle PCX system and are looking to expand or update their instrumentation.

The coronavirus pandemic continues to drive expansion of biotech research and manufacturing, with many companies and contract laboratories using amino acids analysis to identify and characterize biopharmaceuticals, determine purity and optimize manufacturing processes. The Onyx PCX is uniquely suitable for performing with excellence in regulated environments. Easy and robust operation, extensive record-keeping capabilities for troubleshooting as well as regulatory compliance and the ability to work with any HPLC setup makes the Onyx PCX a great choice for any laboratory running amino acids analysis.

By spending our time here at home and not presenting at various technical conferences, myself and the other chemists also had the opportunity to get creative and stretch beyond scientific posters into the world of marketing! We have created short videos highlighting the best features of Onyx PCX and capabilities of post-column amino acids analysis. You may have seen our LinkedIn posts about these videos – we are really quite proud of our work. Special thanks to David Mazawa for contributing the technical wizardry and to our graphic design consultant, Phil Mowery, for adding animations and sharpening up our look!

As always, at Pickering Laboratories we are concentrating on providing the best possible service and support for our customers. We have been hard at work strengthening our supply chain, adjusting production and inventory to meet the changing demand and collaborating closely with other companies to support our partners during this difficult time.  We know that our customers will appreciate our grit and resilience during 2020; we want to contribute to the best parts of what is working for your business as well.

PTS Product Updates for September 2020

By David Mazawa

Dear valued customer,

We continue to receive frequent inquiries from customers for new types of Product Testing Solutions, resulting in both proprietary and open market formulations being created. As our product line expands, we will be reaching out to you via our Newsletter for periodic product updates and announcements. You can also check our PTS website for up-to-date product information.

In addition to all the new products below, we are excited to announce an updated PTS brochure is available for free download on our website. This brochure has a fresh new look and includes all the latest PTS products. Please contact us to request a hard copy.

Here are the newest formulations of Product Testing Solutions that we have added:

Artificial Saliva ASTM E2720-16/ASTM E2721-16 with Mucin

This artificial saliva formulation is prepared according to official methods ASTM E2720-16 and ASTM E2721-16, which specify for the evaluation of decontamination procedures for surfaces and materials contaminated with human pathogenic viruses. The formulation has a mineral composition and pH close to human saliva and contains Mucin to increase the viscosity and lubricating ability of the solution. This artificial saliva can also be used for dental, drug delivery or pharmaceutical studies. The stabilized solution is pre-mixed and includes an added preservative to prevent bacterial growth; it is stored at room temperature. The two-part non-stabilized formulation comes with dry pre-weighed mucin powder to be mixed in before use. Non-stabilized solution should be stored refrigerated. The pH of the formulation is 7.

1700-0316     Artificial Saliva, ASTM E2720-16 and ASTM E2721-16 with mucin, Stabilized, each (200 mL/bottle)

1700-0317     Artificial Saliva, ASTM E2720-16 and ASTM E2721-16 with mucin, 2-part, Not Stabilized (200 mL after mixing)

1700-0318     Artificial Saliva, ASTM E2720-16 and ASTM E2721-16 with mucin, Custom pH, Stabilized, each (200 mL/bottle)

1700-0319     Artificial Saliva, ASTM E2720-16 and ASTM E2721-16 with mucin, Custom pH, 2-part, Not Stabilized (200 mL after mixing)


Amylase is the main enzyme in human saliva and it is needed for starch digestion. As some testing applications require studying the effect of enzymes in saliva, Pickering Laboratories offers an easy way to add biological activity to your chosen artificial saliva product. Once added to the 200 mL bottle of artifi­cial saliva, our Amylase product will provide 80 U/mL of enzyme activity.

1700-0320     α-Amylase from Aspergillus oryzae

Modified Saliva for Testing Products for Corrosion, Colorfastness and Discoloration

This ready-to-use solution closely resembles the mineral composition of natural saliva and can be used for testing a wide variety of products, including dental metal alloys. The modified formulation has added Potassium Thiocyanate to achieve better stability at higher pH and make it more similar to human saliva This product is manufactured to order at the customer-requested pH and it can be stored at room temperature.

1700-0315     Artificial Saliva, Modified Fusayama/Meyer, Custom pH up to 6.5, Not Stabilized, each (200 mL/bottle)

Custom Formulation Eccrine Perspiration

We will occasionally receive requests to modify our existing Eccrine formulation to fit a customer’s desired testing conditions. In these cases, the customer only wants to customize the Eccrine formulation is small ways in addition to modifying the pH. These customers can now use the part number below for minor customizations in component concentrations. Contact for details.

1700-0535     Artificial Eccrine Perspiration, Custom Formulation, Stabilized, each (950 mL /bottle)

Buffered Sweat

The pH of the solution is an important consideration in product testing, affecting corrosion rate, level of color degradation and leaching of metals and organic components from wearable products. Many procedures require a tight pH range during testing. To accommodate these pH requirements and to improve pH stability over time, Pickering Laboratories is offering buffered versions of industry-specific artificial perspiration formulations. By adding a Phosphate buffer to the original formulation, the pH stability of the solution is greatly improved while its effect on corrosion and colorfastness remains unaffected. Contact for details.

Buffered DIN 53160, BS EN 1811:2011 Artificial Perspiration

Method DIN 53160-2:2010-10 specifies an artificial perspiration solution that is used to determine the colorfastness of articles for common use. This test establishes whether coloring on materials can migrate from the daily use articles to the skin. The test method is applicable to all articles of daily use, independent of the coloring procedure applied (dyeing, staining or coating). Method BS EN 1811:2011 is used for the testing of nickel release from jewelries and other products that come with prolonged contact with skin. The primary perspiration components and pH described by methods BS EN 1811:2011 and DIN 53160-2:2010-10 are the same, and now Pickering Laboratories is offering a buffered version of the original formulations. Phosphate ions do not affect color migration rates nor the rate of nickel release, so these modified formulations can be used for the same testing protocols. The buffered formulation is offered at pH 6.5, as specified by DIN 53160 and BS EN 1811:2011 methods, as well as at a custom pH by customer request. Stabilized formulations contain a preservative to prevent bacteria growth and can be stored at room temperature.

1700-0567     Artificial Perspiration, DIN 53160, BS EN 1811:2011, Buffered, Not Stabilized, each (200mL/bottle)

1700-0568     Artificial Perspiration, DIN 53160, BS EN 1811:2011, Buffered, Stabilized, each (200mL/bottle)

1700-0569     Artificial Perspiration, DIN 53160, BS EN 1811:2011, Buffered, Custom pH, Not Stabilized, each (200mL/bottle)

1700-0570     Artificial Perspiration, DIN 53160, BS EN 1811:2011, Buffered, Custom pH, Stabilized, each (200mL/bottle)

Simulated Sea Water for Permeation Testing

This solution was formulated according to Test Operations Procedure 08-2-501A that describes permeation testing of materials with chemical agents or simulants (Swatch Testing).

1700-0807     Simulated Sea Water for Permeation Testing (950 mL/bottle)

For more information about these or any of our other products, please don’t hesitate to reach out to myself and the rest of the Technical Support team.  We stand ready to help answer questions or work with you on a custom, proprietary formulation you’re currently preparing in-house.

Best regards,

David Mazawa
Technical Support Chemist
Pickering Laboratories, Inc.
1280 Space Park Way
Mountain View, CA 94043, USA
Phone: (650) 694-6700 x710

Happy Anniversary! Or Rather, Work-a-versary!

By Rebecca Smith and Rudy Suez

The world keeps turning, turning, turning… and time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future…  With that thought in mind, we want to acknowledge two of our employees that have been a part of our journey for quite some time and to celebrate a couple recently of joined folks as they complete their first full year!

As some of you may know, Pickering Laboratories has a group of very tenured employees – many have been with the organization for over 15, 20 and even 25-plus years.  So, we would like to formally introduce and fête two longstanding members of our staff: Gabriela Ron and Anita Gribaldo

First up, Gabriela is a member of our production team and back in May she celebrated her 20th year with Pickering Laboratories!  (Yep… you read that right… 20 years!)  Gabriela is our resident expert when it comes to manufacturing Trione reagent, so all of our Amino Acids customers have benefited from her careful attention and strong work ethic.  Fun fact, Gabriela was the very first employee whose work was moved to the “new” laboratory way back in 1999!  While we are postponing until post-pandemic throwing her a right proper bash, we want to take a minute and offer up a socially-distanced cheers to Gabriela for 20 years of service!

Next month, we will celebrate with Anita, our packaging specialist, as she reaches her 20-year mark here at Pickering Laboratories as well!  Anita’s first day at Pickering was the day before Halloween back in 2000, which must have been pretty spooky considering she moved to the U.S. from Poland in May of the same year and had NO IDEA about Halloween!  Anita describes her total confusion when she showed up to work on her second day only to be confronted by a fully dressed witch at the door!  These days, she loves Halloween and the tradition of handing out candy to neighborhood kids.

So, we wanted to give a huge shout out to Gabriela and Anita; these outstanding women show up day-in and day-out with amazing attitudes and add value to both our products and our organization as a whole.  Their proven track records of hard work and attention to detail are apparent every time you receive your order – they both have had their hands on your product one way or another, whether it is in the production of a specific formulation or after, in final packaging.   They both take immense pride in providing quality products for our customers, every single time an order goes out our door.  So please, help us again in congratulating these outstanding employees for their service and quality of work.  

Pickering Laboratories also wants to celebrate with two of our newest employees who have just hit their 1-year mark!  Yuliana Lopez is one of our Customer Service Representatives; we’re sure that many of you have interacted with Yuliana and seen first-hand her dedication to our customers.  Yuliana loves to build relationships and she’s very customer-centric.  Her ability to multitask is illustrated by her management of international and domestic orders simultaneously, while working with freight forwarders and coordinating with internal Pickering departments!  Yuliana is the front line for making sure all of our products are available on time and as promised for our customers.  She takes pride in doing right by our customers daily, and Yuliana truly wears so many different hats already in her first year!  We are extremely happy to have her as part of the Pickering family and look forward to see her continued growth within the organization!

Rudy Suez, our Customer Service Manager, is also hitting his 1-year anniversary!  Rudy has been instrumental in bringing this new management position from planning to reality, and in his first year he’s already become an integral part of our leadership team.  Always ready with a warm smile and a cold beer, Rudy works with Yuliana and Gloria to provide customers with accurate orders and rapid service.  He’s tackled new challenges in extending beyond his sales and customer service experience too, by tackling Accounts Receivable (AR) management as well – and knocking it out of the park!  2020 has been a big year for Rudy, since he’s learning to balance his life as a new dad with his role here at Pickering.  Seems like we’re more likely to catch him with a hot coffee than a cold beer these days – quite the change from Friday afternoons in 2019!  So, congratulations to Rudy on his work-a-versary and we hope he keeps loving every minute of fatherhood!

Virtual cheers to all of these employees and many thanks for their contributions to our mutual success!  The future is looking bright at Pickering Laboratories!

Meet Our New Production Manager!

By Rebecca Smith

It is my great pleasure to introduce Christopher Nguyen, our new Production Manager, via newsletter to all of our customers, vendors and distributors!  When the pandemic quarantine finally lifts and life resumes some semblance of normalcy, we hope to have the chance for some of you to get better acquainted with Christopher in person, perhaps at Pittcon… But in the meantime, this will have to do!

Christopher joined the team at the beginning of June and has quickly come up to speed here at Pickering Laboratories.  Formerly, he managed a team of Inventory Control Specialists, so Christopher’s timing was impeccable as he arrived at Pickering with exactly 30 days to onboard before leading our annual physical inventory!  Unlike myself, Christopher loves the art of inventory control, so he was an excellent fit for the task and really used the time to familiarize himself with both our products and our staff. 

Coming from Caliva, there was some overlap between his previous role and our business, but Christopher definitely had a pretty steep learning curve when it came to supporting our customers!  Good thing he’s able to connect really well with the staff and lean on them – as you know, we’re lucky to have a long-tenured production team who completely rock!  Since we wrapped inventory up this summer, Christopher has been diving deep with Anita in packaging and Craig and Skip in the planning and procurement side of the business.  He’s “all about supply chains,” which fits in perfectly with Pickering’s COVID-19 goal to be the strongest link for each of our customers to rely on during this challenging year. 

In his free time (that “life” part of the work-life balance Pickering’s so proud of!), Christopher is a competitive bodybuilder!  He is looking forward to his next competition, which was postponed from 2020 into 2021 due to the pandemic.  He’s also interested in MMA, dogs and cars.  But when you ask Christopher about his personal life, he’s super focused on his family.  Such a great fit for our culture!

Welcome, Christopher!  We’re looking forward to your many years of service to come… and to watching your adorable son grow up! 

Chromatography Quiz #36 — Amino Acids Bent Outa Shape

Chromatography Quiz #35 – Bad Carbamate Chromatography

Pickering Labs would like to congratulate all of our winners for our previous newsletter’s Chromatography Quiz:

Mark Ritari from Anatek Labs Inc., Jim Balk from Nebraska Public Health Environmental Lab, Josiah Hakala from Minnesota Department of Health, and Narjes Ghafoori from Los Angeles County Public Health Laboratory.

Winners will soon receive: Amazon eGift Card! ($100 value)

Congratulations to our quiz winners!


Thank you all for your submissions!

In this case, the cause for the bad chromatography was a damaged or old heated reactor coil. However, poor peak shape can be caused by many possible issues. Here is a beautifully summarized answer to the quiz from one of our winners:

Observation:  Peak Tailing observed for all target compounds- more extensive for earlier eluting chromatography peaks, carbaryl and 1-naphthol not as affected.  Extensive tailing will cause integration problems for choosing area or peak height as a response variable. Peak retention and selectivity not affected, compromise in resolution but peak separation is still present.  There are multiple causes of peak tailing.  Unwanted secondary interaction between the analyte and stationary phase can lead to peak shape problems leading to peak tailing and loss of efficiency (sensitivity).  Loss of resolution and difficulty with integration. One must have the proper instrument setup (detector time constant) and proper connections to eliminate extra column dead volume (connecting tubing, inline frits, guard column) to maintain column efficiency.  The presence of trace metals can cause increases stationary phase silanol activity, leading to peak tailing from secondary interaction – use type B silica columns.

Possible problems could be coating or obstruction on column frit of particles coating the column from sample matrix and is very common. This will affect all peaks and is causes a increase in backpressure. This can be prevented by filtering sample prior to HPLC.  Flushing with various solvents can help. If reverse flushing the column, replacing the guard column, and/or pre-column inline frit does not help, the column has been probably chemically damaged and should be replaced. Physical damage accompanied by pressure change, pressure shock, void present (bed deformation) in column bed will affect all peaks – the column will have to be replaced. I have injected 3-5 100uL 3% ChlorAC buffer in 30% methanol and running a gradient to 30% methanol (holding at 30% methanol for 30 minutes) and then 100% methanol for 1 hr at 1cc /min.  It is important to that a proper guard column and sample solvent be used for the best peak shape. The sample must be properly buffered for carbamate analysis and the guard column be the sample packing material as the analytical column.

Diagnosis /Prognosis

  1. Analytical column problems (peak shape/loss of efficiency) has multiple causes; problems can be related to all components in the HPLC system (pump, injector, column, detector, data system/integrator).
  2. Use column protection (In-line filters /Guard columns); filter samples, mobile phase compatible sample solvent with properly sample-clean-up.
  3. Peak tailing, broadening, and loss of efficiency may be cause by column secondary interaction-metal cation activated or free silanol residues, column contamination, column aging, column sample mass/ volume overload, and/or extra-column effects (extra-column dispersion)
  4. In this case peak retention/selectivity has been affected.  Some compromise in resolution has occurred because of peak tailing.
  5. Method development is important. Is the analytical column really the problem?  Troubleshooting HPLC system components is necessary. Replacing the column with a new column (high purity Type B silica) may eliminate HPLC system problem as the cause of bad chromatography.
  6. Peak tailing for all peaks may be a physical rather than a chemical problem. The initial problem occurred before analytes began migrating through the column. This type of peak shape problem occurs with a partially blocked or void at the head of the column. Replacing or installing in-line frit (0.5 um porosity) downstream from the autosampler is an easy and less expensive to solve this type of peak distortion problem.
  7. For the diagnosis of the “bad chromatogram”, the abnormal peak shape (peak broadening/tailing) is particularly evident for all peaks with less noticeable distortion for carbaryl /1-naphthol. If all peaks in the chromatogram are affected, the problem may be related to either the column or the system.  If only early eluting peaks are affected, then the problem lies within the fluid path (perhaps incorrect internal diameter of tubing, fittings, etc.).  Problems with single peaks may suggest a specific chemistry problem in my experience.  One also consider post-column broadening effects where extra-column band broadening or changes in the system are the most likely causes  

Chromatography Quiz #36 – Amino Acids Bent Outa Shape

Correctly answer the question below and win a prize! Simply email your answer and your full contact information to Rebecca at by November 15, 2020 in order to win. You will receive email confirmation when your submission is received, and the troubleshooting answer and winner congratulations will be published in the next issue (to be anonymous, please notify Rebecca in submission).

Below you will find the method details for the Amino Acids method. What could be causing the poor peak shape?

Analytical column: 0354100T

Post-column Conditions
Post-column System: Onyx PCX, Pinnacle PCX, or Vector PCX
Reactor 1: 1030 ºC, 0.5 mL
Reagent 1: Trione
Detection: 570nm
Injection Volume: 10ul

Black is a good chromatogram. Pink is the bad chromatogram.

Reference Chromatrogram:

Bad Chromatogram:






How Pickering Supports the Fight Against COVID-19: Amino Acids Analysis

By Maria Ofitserova

As novel Covid-19 virus spreads around the globe, pharmaceutical companies worldwide are racing to develop vaccines, therapeutic agents and prophylactics to combat the disease. A lot of these pharmaceuticals are biologics – in other words, they are either isolated from natural sources or manufactured via biotechnology methods.

The focus on biological products during the current pandemic has highlighted the crucial role Amino Acids Analysis plays in the research and production of pharmaceuticals. As a result, Pickering Laboratories is seeing a surge in demand from customers requiring the consumables necessary to support these critical efforts.

Amino Acids Analysis can be used for:

  • Identification tests for peptides and proteins by means of amino acids composition analysis;
  • Determination of Impurities and related substances in Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) and intermediates;
  • Single or total amino acids quantification in drug products, including markers determination in complex matrixes;
  • Control of manufacturing processes for recombinant proteins.

Our Amino Acids Analysis methods allow laboratories to perform testing according to European Pharmacopeia as well as testing of hydrolyzed and native substances.

Though it seems the focus is now set firmly on pharmaceutical industry, there are other vital areas of amino acids testing that cannot be overlooked. No less important is the Amino Acids Analysis of physiological samples done by hospitals and clinical laboratories. Testing of newborns for inborn errors of metabolism, such as PKU and MSUD, as well as monitoring amino acids markers for different medical conditions, including rejection of organ transplants, metabolic disorders and diabetes, are all tests that still have to be done in a timely manner to prevent adverse health outcomes, pandemic or not.

Preventing disruption in food supply is another area that needs amino acids analysis to continue uninterrupted during the global Coronavirus crisis. Feed and food testing laboratories are already under stress due to special quarantine requirements, so providing a steady supply of reagents and chemicals is another way Pickering doing its part in keeping these industries running.

As an expert in Amino Acids Analysis and a trusted supplier of related consumable products, Pickering Laboratories is focused on supporting our new and existing customers as they navigate increased demand for testing. We are open for business and operating at full production capacity during the pandemic.

During these trying times, we are proud to continue providing timely product delivery and technical assistance to help ensure uninterrupted operations for essential children’s hospital, clinical laboratories, pharmaceutical companies and their testing laboratory partners, not to mention drinking water and food testing labs worldwide with our other post-column applications.

To learn more or ask specific questions about our product availability and up-to-date lead times, please contact us at or and we will gladly address your concerns.

How Pickering Supports the Fight Against COVID-19: Product Testing Solutions

By Maria Ofitserova

For several years now, Pickering Laboratories has continued to expand our line of Product Testing Solutions to include new synthetic body fluids or environmental solutions. We offer a variety of formulations of artificial perspiration, sebum and saliva for testing fabrics, plastics, dental alloys, medical devices, wearables and other electronics and many different consumer products.

The challenges that Covid-19 pandemic presents for the pharmaceutical and health care industry are staggering, and they impact manufacturers of medical devices and personal protective equipment as well. This brings into focus the need for artificial bodily fluids that can be used for both ongoing testing and tackling the new developments introduced by the Coronavirus crisis.

Currently, Pickering Laboratories offers Artificial Lung Fluid called Gamble’s solution, which is used to simulate different interstitial conditions in the lung. Several artificial lung fluid formulations are described in literature and we would be happy to discuss customers’ particular testing needs and help you choose the correct solution for your specific application. As established manufacturers of medical devices are now joined by companies newly entering the health care space, we are proud to do our part in ensuring that medical equipment, such as ventilators, get properly tested.

Extensive shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) are creating another layer of emergency during this time. The shortage has forced many companies to consider implementing new sterilization techniques for personal protective equipment originally designed for a single use only.

Masks are especially challenging to sterilized since they get saturated with sweat and oil during use. They are also normally disposable items, not intended to undergo cleaning procedures. Pickering’s artificial perspiration and sebum can simulate the real-world conditions most PPE are exposed to and can be used to help develop ways to safely extend their use.

Pickering’s staff is dedicated to working hard to support our customers, new and returning. We are recommitting to our promise of providing quality reagents and solutions quickly to support essential businesses and supporting manufacturers.

We are accommodating custom formulation requests with accelerated response times. Our Technical Support Chemists are ready to answer any questions you may have. Our Research Chemists are working side-by-side with our production team to rapidly meet demand on new custom projects.

Please reach out if you would like additional information: