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laboratory informatics


Common informatics environment Te Edge specialises in soſtware for biology R&D, and has developed its BioRails suite of tools to facilitate communication and cooperation, in parallel with data handling and reporting. BioRails combines a comprehensive biology data management platform with an ELN, and has the flexibility to manage information input and output for all discovery- stage and downstream R&D processes, Lemon claims. ‘Te soſtware establishes a common informatics environment that forms the foundation for functionality between and within interdisciplinary R&D teams in the pharmaceutical and biotech sectors. ‘


Process assay requests, planning, ordering plates and scheduling experimentation ➤


for workflows, projects and experiments, and many other useful tools to manage the lab’ Te need to have flexibility in an informatics


platform becomes even more relevant when you work with external partners who may have very different in-house processes, or you outsource some aspects of discovery work to CROs, Langrish stresses: ‘Tere is a major industry drive to collaborate in order to innovate, which means that the whole R&D process, right from early discovery through to formal development, increasingly involves multiple partners who all need to put in, access, and analyse data. A common platform is an absolute must.’


Don’t underestimate the need A LIMS is just as relevant to the discovery lab as it is to a manufacturing or QA/QC environment, he adds: ‘Although research at this level is not regulated, there is still a requirement for instrumentation, reagent and solution inventory, and document management, such as storing SOPs.’ Te benefits of implementing an enterprise system in a discovery setting may also far outweigh the financial outlay, Langrish stresses. Tis is especially true in the biotech arena, where a company may have a five-year plan that involves developing a single-platform technology or product to the point where the company may be sold off to big pharma. ‘Te first thing a potential buyer will want to see is all the data. Who did what, where, and when; what were the results, and how were they interpreted? If the biotech can’t easily retrieve their data or prove their findings, then they are unlikely to attract serious bidders.’ LabWare has developed its Enterprise


Laboratory Platform (ELP), which combines LabWare LIMS and LabWare ELN as a seamless platform for any scientific laboratory, from the earliest discovery setting, to downstream development. Te searchable organisational database offers increased data visibility


6 SCIENTIFIC COMPUTING WORLD


and knowledge about compounds, drug formulations, and inventories from compound screening through to late-stage development and regulatory submission. Te company maintains that its approach


of providing an integrated solution also allows organisations to manage both structured and unstructured data in a single platform. ‘Today


THE PHARMA


INDUSTRY DOES HAVE A MAJOR REQUIREMENT FOR SOFTWARE


the need to collaborate with both colleagues and external partners is seen as paramount,’ Langrish concludes. ‘LabWare’s ELP provides a single point of truth for all your scientific data that enhances organisations’ efficiency, improves collaboration, and drives innovations.’


Handling biological complexity Te pharmaceutical industry does have a major requirement for soſtware that facilitates its drive to collaborate on drug discovery, comments Andrew Lemon, CEO at Te Edge Soſtware Consultancy. Pharma is teaming up with academia, biotech, and contract research organisations (CROs) to identify and develop targets and druggable biological pathways, as well as design small-molecule and large- molecule drug candidates. But it’s the large molecules that are taking centre stage, Lemon suggests. ‘Soſtware for chemistry R&D is unremarkable, and widely available from multiple vendors, but with industry’s increasing focus on the development of large-molecule biotherapeutics, there has never be a greater need for soſtware tools that can both manage the complexity of biological information and facilitate networking and external collaboration.’


Automating assay requests In addition to its overarching data management and ELN tools, BioRails features BioRails PTO (Project Tracking and Optimisation) and BioRails AP (Assay Planning). Tese modules have been developed to support networked R&D by offering the capability to plan and submit assays and assay requests – whether to in house or external laboratories – define protocols, schedule, queue and track assays, and manage compound inventory, including the preparation of assay plates, formulation, and biological testing. ‘Te platform enables automated progression, such that a biological entity registered into the system is automatically enrolled into the correct assay queues,’ Lemon explains. ‘Dependent on the results of these initial assays, the next set of assays are then also automatically assigned to the molecule.’


Functionality aids decision making Te level of functionality that BioRails provides for assay planning, design and tracking is relatively new in the informatics arena, he claims. ‘Our soſtware effectively joins the biologists up with project teams inside their own organisation, and with collaborators or service providers, to streamline workflows, avoid repetition, and improve efficiency and data management at all levels. It also means that managers can view progress and results in real time, which facilitates reporting and decision- making.’


High-content assays Research at the discovery stage is also becoming increasingly high-content, rather than just high-throughput, and is moving towards the phenotypic rather than purely pharmacologic, comments Paul Denny-Gouldson, VP strategic solutions at IDBS. ‘In the biology space particularly, scientists are trying to explore molecular mechanisms of action to understand how a disease works, so that they can turn a causal pathway into something druggable.


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The Edge


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