As we saw in part 1 of this blog series, liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) is potentially the new gold standard for therapeutic monitoring of immunosuppressant drugs (ISD). However, for this technology to become widely adopted, the methodology needs to be standardized globally, including addressing bottlenecks both at the pre-analytical stage of sample preparation, and within the process itself. Here we take a look at the top four pitfalls to avoid when implementing LC-MS/MS for ISD monitoring.
Advances in the treatment of disease, such as the many different types of cancer and cardiac diseases, mean that organ and bone marrow transplantation is on the rise.1 This rise has in turn generated an increased need for accurate immunosuppressant drug (ISD) monitoring. This 3-part blog series will walk you through the challenges of adapting gold standard mass spec methods such as LC-MS/MS for ISD monitoring, and explore ways to avoid the associated pitfalls.
What happens when lab automation projects are unsuccessful? One out-take is learning what creates a stronger process and methodology. That's exactly what we found at Tecan after working with several hundred customers on lab automation for multiple projects. This presentation reveals the top 5 pitfalls of custom automation based on real experience.
Automated lab analytics solutions are increasingly taking to the cloud to give labs real-time visibility of instrument and consumables usage. This is valuable information – for example to understand what throughput is available to scale up and complete programs in weeks and hours rather than months. But what about the worry of data security when implementing cloud-based software? Here are seven steps you can take to make sure your data stays safe in the cloud.
Improving lab procurement processes involves more than just putting e-procurement or lab management software in place. In most cases accessing, managing and analyzing the data that you use to support purchase decisions and feed into e-procurement tools is still a big challenge. In previous articles, we explored the value of automated collection of usage data from lab instruments and robotics. What capabilities and features should you look for when deciding which tools will best support your needs? Here are our top picks.
Rohit Shroff provides insight from customer success stories on the benefits of automation in the clinical laboratory. Specifically, he answers the question “what can automation do for me” by illustration of the impact that these solutions have every day ... showing how sample prep automation has overcome workflow bottlenecks in the clinical LC-MS lab with real world tangible results. He shares multiple success stories of labs improving their client services by adopting automation to address the hurdles of productivity, implementation speed, compliance, reproducibility, efficiency, and employee satisfaction and retention.
As labs face tighter profit margins and the need to minimize cost of goods, there is increasing pressure to implement more efficient and responsive mechanisms for procurement and inventory management. A large proportion of annual spend goes towards consumables like disposable pipette tips, microplates and kits. Procurement strategies based on lean and ‘just-in-time’ principles can improve cost-efficiency by reducing overhead and warehousing expenses. However, this often comes with a significant risk: without enough data about both availability of consumables and what you have in stock, you could run into costly unexpected out-of-stock scenarios. Here are three essential questions to ask when looking to reduce the risks of creating leaner, ‘just-in-time’ procurement processes.
As a procurement planner in the competitive life sciences sector, how do you ensure your organization adapts swiftly to the rapidly changing demands of customers and stakeholders? Whether supporting a CRO, pharmaceutical company, clinical lab, biotech business or academic department, procurement teams are under constant pressure to manage risk, reduce costs and keep their organizations profitable. Advancements in technology and business practices are widening the influence of procurement on business operations, requiring procurement teams to collaborate even more closely with other functions, including lab management. Here are three major trends that are transforming procurement management:
So you’ve made the investment in liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MS) in your clinical/diagnostics laboratory and now you need to get it up and running…adding value to the lab and generating a return. The job will certainly include moving from manual to automated sample preparation methods. This can seem an overwhelming task, especially when it involves solid phase extraction (SPE). Sean Orlowicz, Manager, PhenoLogix, offers guidance on a collaborative approach for application support and sample preparation method development.
Congratulations. It took you quite some time and effort to convince your management or institution on the value of investing in automating your experimental or clinical workflow. The applications were submitted, the presentations were made and the wheeling and dealing to secure the budget resulted in you and your team landing the investment. You've arrived. Now all you have to do is choose the robot and get it up and running.
The demand for advanced medical and diagnostic testing continues to accelerate. Laboratories, hospitals, and emerging consumer genomics companies are demanding quicker test sequences resulting in the design and development of new innovative and responsive test protocols. These new tests include the handling of a wide array of fluids. The measurement, monitoring, mixing, and controlling of solvents, salts, detergents, acids, bases, reagents, and additives is critical in all liquid handling lab environments.
When it’s time to move your biotechnology breakthrough towards commercialization, your specific application workflows may require a custom approach to lab automation. If your requirements are uncommon, there may be no off-the-shelf products available for you to compare and test. Even custom configuration of off-the-shelf components may not be suitable. What is the best approach to finding a custom solution that meets your unique needs?
The answer is to use a defined process that ensures each step is thoroughly explored and evaluated. Consider these four “I’s” of custom engineering: Investigate, Ideate, Invent and Integrate.
While MS has been around for over a century, the addition of liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) in clinical testing laboratories has only become feasible in the last 15 to 20 years. Judith Stone, Senior CLS Specialist, shares her experience with implementing LC-MS in the clinical diagnostics lab. Judith examines what drives adoption of LC-MS in the diagnostic lab, effective operation with scale and cost pressure (in other words…how to still make some money on testing), the importance of automated liquid sample handling, and increasing FDA oversight on laboratory developed tests (LDTs).
Are you guilty of making decisions without the data to back them up? In today’s busy labs, mission-critical decisions about laboratory equipment purchases, service contract renewals, consumables spending, and staffing are often made on the basis of incomplete information. Having a clear picture of instrument usage and burn rates of associated reagents and consumables can help you uncover new ways to cut costs and improve performance in the laboratory. In the previous article we highlighted how crucial it can be for labs to monitor instrument utilization data. Now let’s consider more specifically what you can learn from analyzing all this data.
You’ve done your testing on the benchtop and proven that your new biotechnology innovation works in your hands. Now comes the exciting part – turning your solution into a breakthrough product that is ready for broader use and commercial launch. To get there, you need to optimize your processes so that you can ensure they are robust, operate within defined tolerances, and facilitate scale-up. What’s the fastest and most efficient way to get this done so that you can focus on your next bioscience advancements?
As we move into the 2019 budget cycle with signs of a global economic slowdown on the horizon, laboratory administrators are no doubt feeling the heat. A combination of poor forecasting, inefficient use of resources, and a sudden economic downturn could create the perfect storm to capsize operations. Despite these high stakes, critical decisions about budget allocation, expensive equipment purchases, workflow optimization and cost-cutting strategies are often made based on incomplete information or even pure guesswork about laboratory asset utilization.
With biotechnology advancing at an astounding rate, last year’s innovations often become routine tools for today’s breakthroughs. For example, next generation sequencing (NGS) is now an integral step in CRISPR/Cas9 constructions. The interplay between hardware, software, and biotechnologies is continually in flux, as some developments see payoff more quickly than others, and emerging breakthroughs can suddenly change the game altogether. With such constant and unpredictable change, how can you ensure that your own innovations move smoothly from concept to solution as quickly as possible?
Previously perceived perhaps as the exclusive domain of health-food fanatics and well-heeled consumers, organic foods are attracting wider interest and claiming more and more shelf-space in our supermarkets. However, what does the organic label mean to customers, and does it give them the transparency they seek? Will future organic food science techniques be impacted by public perceptions, or will they drive the discussion?
Hot on the heels of a hugely successful SLAS2018 conference in San Diego last February, Tecan teamed up with Titian Software at the end of June to hold an equally popular SLAS2018 workshop in Brussels. The focus this time was on integrating Mosaic, Titian’s sample management software, with Tecan’s latest Fluent® and Fluent Gx laboratory automation workstations.
Choosing a method and developing a protocol for small molecule LC-MSMS sample preparation can be a complex process. An effective shortcut is to use an extraction plate built for automation. With fewer processing steps and an automation-ready format, the use of extraction plate technology can help make tedious LC-MS sample prep processes more routine, whether it’s the analysis of testosterone in serum or anti-depressants in whole blood.
Like gravity, some phenomena are so integral to our existence that we’re barely conscious of them. Maybe that’s why the research community was largely taken by surprise when it was announced that this year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to three American scientists for their seminal work on circadian clocks ¹. But consider the synergies with next gen sequencing (NGS) and gene editing technologies, and it becomes clear that the implications of their work are far-reaching.
The repeatability of biomedical research has become a major issue, and the ability to achieve reproducible research results can only be as good as the liquid handling performance. Automation has become a given step in the drive to generate reproducible data so how well can automated liquid handling perform in, for example, genomics applications?
The presence of excess cortisol hormone in saliva can be an indication of a number of serious biochemical imbalances that include chronic stress, adrenal fatigue, obesity, diabetes and conditions like Cushing Syndrome. Increasingly, spit-and-measure testing is becoming the go-to test for cortisol.
The popularity of mass spectrometry based testing is growing all the time. As a result, businesses in the diagnostics industry offering mass-spectrometry-based clinical assays, especially analytical laboratories in toxicology environments, are facing a number of major challenges. These include meeting scaling requirements that are non-linear, overcoming regulatory uncertainties while guaranteeing business continuity, raising ROI on LC/MS instruments and lowering turnaround times.
Cognitive computing and artificial intelligence have the power to save us from drowning in the vast and growing sea of data needed for precision medicine, but what will it take to achieve a timely return on investment? Experts from multiple disciplines will gather to share their perspectives on this challenging problem at the upcoming Tecan Symposium in Salt Lake City on November 14th.
In the previous article in this series it became clear that high productivity in small molecule LC-MSMS relies on effective sample prep that supports reproducible results and minimizes downtime for sensitive LC and MS equipment. The ideal sample prep protocol should be simple, cost-effective, and enable matrix depletion with the option to concentrate analytes independent of matrix components. The questions are, which method should you choose and how should you go about optimizing it? Let’s start by looking at the range of methods currently available.
Liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MSMS) adds a lot of analytical power when you need to quantify small molecules in body fluids, but a simple approach of ‘dilute and shoot’ is not going to be enough to ensure robust analysis. Sample prep methods can well be the single biggest time consumer you are facing, which means that a wise choice of sample prep method is a great opportunity for improving lab productivity.
Quality sample preparation is fundamental to the analytical process. No wonder it can take up to 60% of a laboratory technician’s time. Today’s robotic systems are turbo charging this process – especially when it comes to detecting residual antibiotics.
As the numbers of addicts and drug-related deaths continue to soar in the US and in Europe, forensic and diagnostic labs are looking for efficient methods to discriminate drugs of abuse that provide an easy workflow and are sufficiently sensitive to detect extremely low quantities of highly potent synthetic opioids in the urine of victims.
In the US and EU, there are over 200 approved biotherapeutic drugs already on the market. The rush to evaluate the hundreds of candidates in the pipeline has created a demand for increasingly efficient high throughput technologies in process development.
You may be convinced that your academic research laboratory is humming along just fine and cannot benefit from, take the time to consider, and perhaps most of all, afford adding automation to your workflow.
Scinomix, Inc., founded in 2001, creates customized solutions for labeling tubes, vials and plates in many life science applications. We took the chance to ask Nigel Malterer (CEO) and Jonathan King (Automation Software Engineer) at Scinomix about how automated barcode labeling solutions are helping to improve productivity, reduce errors and costs, and increase control over lab workflows.
Barcodes play a central role in minimizing the risk of error in lab automation by providing secure tracking of components throughout the workflow. Barcode-guided lab automation can be simple and cost-effective, with significant paybacks thanks to productivity increases.
As we have learned in previous posts in this series, only pipette tips marked ‘sterile’ are guaranteed with a sterility assurance level (SAL) of 10-6. Pipette tips labeled as ‘Pre-sterile’ do not give such sterility assurances.
The life science industry is constantly fighting to improve throughput and reduce costs through the ‘industrialization’ of research and development. You have to strike a balance between moving quickly (productivity) and ensuring that you are actually moving in the right direction (quality). Lab automation, including automated liquid handling, plays an essential role in ramping up productivity. Ensuring high quality liquid handling is therefore the key to securing the reliable data you need to meet your program goals.
The industrialization of biology has become possible thanks to the automation of repetitive tasks such as liquid handling, providing several benefits. It allows customers to extend their window of operations, achieve greater assay consistency and refocus expertise away from repetitive processes. In addition, moving manual steps, such as pipetting into the control of robots also enables secure downsizing of formats, including sample and reagent volumes.
The mass spec immunoassay (MSIA) workflow was developed to provide a simple, automated process for purification of targeted analytes for downstream detection using multiple analytical techniques, such as mass spectrometry.
Robotics and automation have become essential to the future plans of drug discovery and clinical diagnostic companies. Executives are looking to increase productivity and reduce costs, and automation fits the bill in every respect.