Laboratory Automation

It’s surprising how much pharmaceutical research to date has been more art than science. Computing power is still a long way off predicting the properties of proteins and cells from their DNA, so until then the more research that can be accelerated by automation (e.g. lab robots, lab-on-chip) the better.

And this is being driven by the big pharma companies who can’t afford the failure rate at late stage drug development, or worse after release which can result in multi-billion law suits. I attended an excellenty talk by the chief scientific office for GE Healthcare recently and they are mass producing stem cell lines, and the machinery to test them, so that drugs can be tested for cardio-toxicity much earlier on in the development process.

Latest News

A new breed of scientist, with brains of silicon – Science Mag – 05-Jul-2017
Robots use sound waves to create droplets a thousand times smaller than one a human can transfer.
But they also plan the experiments – interpreting data and generating hypotheses.
Zymergen tunes industrial microbes that produce ingredients for biofuels, plastics, or drugs.
This is already a $160-billion-per-year sector.
Can run a thousand experiments per week compared to a typical human’s 10 per month.

Robotics collaboration helps work on disease detection – University of Nevada – 18-May-2017
University of Nevada, Reno working with robotic precision liquid equipment from Hamilton Company.
Developing rapid diagnostics and therapeutics for infectious diseases.
System is able to detect how much virus or bacteria a person has in them from both qualitative and quantitative approaches.
The automated liquid handling functions provide a more accurate and faster turnaround time when conducting experiments.

Robots Are Working 24/7 To Cure Cancer – Gizmodo – 2-Sep-2016
Specialised robots work non-stop to rapidly testing hundreds of treatments for kids with high-risk cancers.
Suite of tests analyse the samples and test them against libraries of drugs.
Also includes several advanced gene sequencing tests.
Drug sensitivity tests performed to better tailor treatment to the child’s individual cancer.
Identifies drug combinations most likely to be effective in stopping the growth of each individual patient’s cancer cells.
Australian Cancer Research Foundation Child Cancer Personalised Medicine Centre is headquarters for the Zero Childhood Cancer program.

Lab robot accelerates cancer treatment research – Kurzweil AI – 23-Sep-2015
Uppsala University research system finds optimal treatment drug combinations by planning, conducting and analyzing its own experiments.
Handles dozen drugs simultaneously – aiming for hundreds in future.

Automation reduces medical testing from weeks to minutes – Pacific Business News – 3-Aug-2015
Hawaii-based Diagnostic Laboratory Services, Inc. purchases WASP robot (Walk Away Specimen Processor) by COPAN Italia .
Uses high-resolution camera and mass spectrometer to identify pathogens.
Quicker results and overcomes shortage of trained microbiology personnel in Hawaii.

Robotics in pharmacy automation – Express Pharma – 6-Jul-2015
Increased laboratory throughput. Free up researchers from repetitive tasks. For example, robotic pharmacies are expanding rapidly within hospitals and clinics.

Ultra-Fast Software Developed to Scan the Human Genome – Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News – 2-Feb-15

Artificially-intelligent Robot Scientist ‘Eve’ could boost search for new drugs – Cambridge University – 4-Feb-15

Engineers devise technology for rapidly testing drug-delivery vehicles in zebrafish – MIT – 30-Sep-14

 

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