Roche launches more compact cobas 5800 analyzer for smaller European diagnostic labs

Roche launched a relatively more compact addition to its mainstay cobas molecular diagnostic lineup with instruments that aim to bring automated testing to laboratories of all sizes.

Roche is initially releasing the system in Europe and countries accepting the CE mark, and it said in a statement it anticipates securing an FDA approval in the third quarter of next year. 

The new system is designed to help meet the explosion in demand for infectious disease testing seen since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic—including at smaller hospitals, clinics and public health laboratories—as well as real-time PCR diagnostics for infections related to sexually transmitted diseases and transplant screening.

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With a total footprint of about 4 feet by 3 feet, the cobas 5800 comes in a smaller package compared to the company’s high-throughput heavyweights in the cobas 6800 and 8800. But it’s still able to process between 20 and 150 samples per day, with up to 528 individual test results delivered in a 24-hour period.

The cobas 5800 can pull from a menu of more than 25 assays that it shares with its larger siblings, including PCR tests for COVID-19, in addition to employing the same reagents and user interface. 

It also connects with Roche’s Molecular Work Area hardware, which offers lab management and automation equipment to streamline tasks such as handling test tubes and preparing samples for analysis.

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The push to fit automated infectious disease testing in physically smaller labs is taking many shapes. In October, Hologic kicked off the European launch of its recently acquired, stackable and tabletop-sized molecular diagnostic system.

The Novodiag system was claimed from Finnish-French molecular test maker Mobidiag in a $795 million deal inked earlier this summer. The company sees the smaller hardware as a welcome complement to its Panther instrument lines: large testing machines that have helped bankroll a number of Hologic’s international acquisitions since the beginning of the pandemic.