Laboratory automation has metamorphosed the realm of drug discovery over the years through two of major influential factors – cost benefit and error reduction.
The use of robots to automate high-volume repetitive tasks has been common practice going back to the early 1970s, when the German company KUKA developed and deployed the first electromechanical industrial robot.
The automation of immunoassays is not a new trend, but one that has already witnessed decades of innovation in diagnostic laboratories. However, in terms of hands-free automated processing of small batches of immunoassays in the research lab, the potential end-user is fortunate to be presented today with an increasing number of choices.
Therapeutic drug monitoring services are a vital part of the pathology laboratory’s remit, providing essential clinical information to guide the management and treatment of a wide range of patients, from those with psychiatric disorders to post-transplantation care.
The Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University plays an important role in addressing global healthcare challenges by developing bio-inspired solutions that can be translated into commercially viable products and clinical practices.
Driven by the need to enable technically challenging or repetitive processes, many labs in drug discovery that were not previously adopters of laboratory automation are being increasingly drawn to the potential of simple small-scale benchtop automation.
The pharmaceutical industry has never been a harbinger to change and modernisation, indeed, it is readily accepted that it is a good decade behind other industries in terms of its adoption of industrial automation.
Cost is now a key driver for pharmaceutical companies and in many respects shapes the capital, revenue and resource decisions that have to be made during the drug discovery process. Where companies are resource rich, the need for fully automated screening platforms is reduced and workstation-based systems tend to be more abundant.
This article investigates solid/powder dispensing in pharma and biotech, examines where it is most used, whether there exists a need to apply automation and what is motivating its wider use today. It reveals how concerns over problematic solids and the dispensing technology itself have hampered the perception that automation is a realistic proposition and led to the widely held industry view that automation cannot completely substitute for manual weigh outs.