Highlights from SLAS2022

DDW’s Megan Thomas rounds up some highlights from SLAS2022 which took place in Boston, US.

Lab design from the future

This event marked the start of DDW’s Megan Thomas’ day at SLAS2022, which was chaired by MOMA Therapeutics’ Katelyn Hardy. The session started with Hardy presenting, “How to position your biotech startup to be an innovation leader with a well-crafted data strategy”. The presentation, which can now be watched on-demand, was an engaging conversation about how to bring perspective to startups, how to remain adaptable and flexible as you go, as well as how to sell your vision – from the “baby steps” of early data collection to a centralised lab of the future.

Hardy was followed by a virtual presentation from Benjamin Mintz, Director of Interconnected Science Ecosystem at ORNL, who covered the topic, “Interconnected Science Ecosystem for Smart Labs of the Future”. Scientific research today often requires manual and labour-intensive processes that limit the pace of new discoveries. Mintz explained ways in which the organisation aim to achieve its primary goal of developing and implementing a scalable One-ORNL system-of-systems ecosystem to enable smart, “self-driving” experiments and processes that accelerate the pace of scientific discovery.

The session was concluded with Tamsin Mansley of Optibrium Limited presenting, “Accessible AI for Small Molecule Discovery Research: Considerations and Value Drivers”. With AI as a buzzword across the industry, Mansley offered insight into the new advances in data science and AI which bring valuable insights and cost-savings that drive discovery projects, including the issue of bottlenecks and gaps and the ways in which AI can be optimised to address them.

The Clear Case for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Life Sciences

This featured keynote presentation was delivered by Raven Solomon in the exhibition centre’s Grand Ballroom, followed by a panel discussion hosted by Solomon and including speakers Ishita (Mili) Bhattacharya (US Sales Associate fir acCELLerate, and Director of IMGE Dance LLC), Colin Cox (Director of Automation at Seer), Ashley Wallace (Director of Education and Outreach for the Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter and Executive Board Member of National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE)) and Richard Ellson, CTO of Beckman Coulter Life Sciences.

Solomon’s keynote presented a generational business case for diversity, equity and inclusion in life sciences, and the panel discussion projected the core values and research presented by Solomon onto a life science specific stage. Solomon asked the panel for some key take aways for the audience to take back to their workplaces, and the answers were consistent with the overall inspirational and proactive nature of the event: An urge to re-evaluate your circles and acknowledge personal responsibility (“Inclusion begins with I”), and a reminder that “comfort” doesn’t incite change, but unlearning and revised learning do.

Product launches

Showcased live at the SLAS2022, SPT Labtech has launched Firefly, a liquid handling platform for next-generation sequencing (NGS) library preparation. Firefly transforms NGS liquid handling workflows by bringing together pipetting and dispensing within a compact, all-in-one design. A complementary peer-to-peer cloud-based network will allow researchers to share their custom protocols, as well as benefit from SPT Labtech’s validated tools to underpin scientific collaboration and innovation.

Azenta has launched BioStore, an automated cryogenic storage system available to view at its booth, which has been designed to fit into spaces under the standard eight feet ceiling height and provide sample security and inventory management within a smaller footprint. Key features of BioStore include storage for samples in a limited space, maintenance of sample integrity with precise cold chain handling, the ability to report and control inventory data in real time as well as to stay compliant by meeting sample traceability requirements.

Beckman Coulter Life Sciences launched its newest liquid handling solution: the Biomek NGeniuS Next Generation Library Prep System. It is a flexible, easy-to-use liquid handler for NGS library preparation which increases walk-away time, processes up to 24 samples at a time, and offers a menu of demonstrated applications. It is ideal for laboratories requiring flexibility and less hands-on time, and the user-friendly interface requires no programming skills. It reduces errors, and batch setup and system monitoring virtually anywhere from a Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge enabled computer.

The Automated TipNovus (ATN) Package by Grenova is a fully integrated, turnkey tip washing solution designed to improve lab operations, speed, and impact while reducing waste, and is being showcased on the SLAS2022 exhibition floor. In terms of immediate impact, the ATN enables labs to create supply chain resilience and protect against uncertainty during global pipette tip shortages. It reduces recurring costs of single-use pipette tips, plastic, bio-hazardous waste generated by labs, the logistical constraints needed to implement tip washing as well as labour hours needed to wash tips.

Another product includes BMG Labtech’s newly launched microplate reader, VANTAstar. The compact multi-mode microplate reader was conceived for ease-of-use and flexibility and ensures detection setup for a simplified data generation. Equipped with BMG Labtech’s patented dual LVF Monochromators system, filters, UV/vis spectrometer, and Enhanced Dynamic Range technology, it can cover a wide range of applications in basic research and life science. 

Corning Life Sciences showcased the Matribot 3D Bioprinter (which will officially launch later this month). This flexible, semi-automated benchtop system is designed to dispense and print temperature-sensitive hydrogels such as Corning Matrigel Matrix and collagen without cold blocks, ice buckets or cold roomall within a small footprint. 

Also on show was the Lambda EliteMax Semi-automated Benchtop Pipettor, designed to be an easy-to-use liquid handler that can support a variety of activities, from simple plate fillings to complex protocol requirements.  

SLAS2022 Student Poster Award winner announcement 

This year’s 2022 Student Poster Award winners are Stephen Spangenberg (The Scripps Institute), Jeong Hyun Lee (University of British Columbia) and Antra Ganguly (university of Texas at Dallas). Each winner has received $500.

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