Preserving Precious Samples via Innovative Automation

Posted By: Bioscribe and Labcyte on June 04, 2018

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In a recent article printed in Drug Discovery World, Clive Green and Philip Spencer from AstraZeneca discuss how their company is addressing the issue by partnering with Labcyte and others to give its sample management system a complete rehaul.

The answer, they suggest, is innovative automation.

“By pushing the boundaries for automation, labware and software, we have made it possible to extract more value from each compound in readiness for an increase in new targets.”

AstraZeneca has more than two million compounds at its disposal, yet it faces the same compound library depletion challenge of other labs. Approximately 150,000 of its compounds are at risk of depletion, with a cost of replacement of $50 to $100 per compound.

Miniaturisation could mean each compound would last for many more screens. Acoustic liquid handling by Labcyte enables up to a 100-fold reduction of library prep reaction volumes. AstraZeneca wanted to optimize this capability, and bring it into the process even earlier, in a way that could also contribute to better sample storage.

By transitioning to trays of tubes rather than traditional microplates, the company was able to increase the number of tubes per tray -- up to 1,280 -- and integrate a new barcoding system for meticulous sample tracking. Additional development of compatible IT equipment and software has created a seamless sample ordering, storage and retrieval process, as well as process protocol and results reporting.

The authors predict that the improvements from this new integrated approach will be significant, including a four-fold increase in automated storage and retrieval capacity (from 20,000 to 80,000 samples per day), and the ability to plate 100,000 samples in just 30 hours.

“By creating a completely non-contact workflow using solely acoustic dispensing liquid handlers, rather than the current industry standard, a hybrid of contact and non-contact dispensing, we anticipate a 10-fold reduction in sample volume across all assays.”

This translates into great cost savings, as well as increased screening capacity and speed.

“This approach could serve as a template for other organisations looking to extend their own capabilities,” Green and Spencer state.

The advanced automation system AstraZeneca implemented is now available in the new Echo® 655T Liquid Handler system.

Learn more about Labcyte’s partnership with AstraZeneca.



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