Automation for genomics could accelerate discovery

Liquid handler in laboratory

A collaboration between Automata and the Advanced Sequencing Facility (ASF) at The Francis Crick Institute hopes to unlock the power of integrated automation for genomics sample preparation. 

Genomics sample preparation workflows are ideally suited for automation given the need for robustness and scalability.  

The teams will automate three workflows to decrease manual touchpoints, increase throughput and optimise R&D flexibility. 

Jerome Nicod, Head of the Advanced Sequencing Facility at the Francis Crick Institute, commented: “The major benefit of our walkaway workflows is the ability to prepare samples and generate data rapidly, accelerating the pace of discoveries at the Crick. This includes the validation of CRISPR genome editing, the extraction of genetic material from fixed tumour samples for cancer research and genomic surveillance of the Covid-19 pandemic.” 

The teams have collaborated on two walkaway workflows, with a further workflow in progress. These workflows use the first version of Automata’s lab bench solution, made up of four laboratory instruments, six benches and four robots.  

Until now, automation in genomics labs has required a series of specialised instruments still reliant on humans for the repetitive manual work of moving consumables between them and waiting for processes to finish. 

With recent advances, benchtops can be physically and digitally connected, with built-in versatility to build and edit multiple different workflows.

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