Streamlining Science: How Automated Automated Liquid Handling Systems Transforms Research

Author : CMI Blogging | Published On : 06 Feb 2024


Automated Liquid Handling Systems:

Automated liquid handling systems have revolutionized the way life science research is conducted in laboratories across the world. From drug discovery to bioprocessing, these systems have enabled high-throughput screening, increased productivity and optimized workflows. In this article, we will explore the types of automated liquid handling systems available, their applications in different areas of research and development, as well as their advantages over manual pipetting.

Types of Automated Liquid Handling Systems

Low-Throughput Systems

Low-throughput systems are ideal for laboratories processing a moderate number of samples on a daily basis ranging from a few dozens to a few hundreds. Examples of low-throughput systems include single- and multi-channel benchtop liquid handlers that can process from 8-96 samples simultaneously. These systems take up less bench space and are more affordable options for smaller labs. Some common applications include plate replication, reagent addition, and sample preparation for downstream assays.

High-Throughput Systems

For high-volume labs processing thousands of samples routinely, high-throughput liquid handling systems are needed. These systems have the capacity to handle plates with thousands of wells and can execute complex pipetting protocols within a very short time. High-throughput systems are typically used for applications such as primary cell-based screening, PCR setup, microtiter plate reformatting etc., where sample numbers are in thousands to millions. Robotic arms with capabilities of multidirectional movements enable these systems to rapidly move between samples, plates, and reagents in an automated workflow.

Applications in Drug Discovery

Automated Liquid Handling Systems play a vital role in drug discovery from target identification and validation to lead optimization. These systems help accelerate primary and secondary screening of compound libraries through reagent addition, sample transfer and liquid dispensing into multi-well plates.

Automated liquid handling finds application in:

- High-throughput screening (HTS) - Dispensing of compound libraries and biological reagents into microtiter plates for primary screening of millions of compounds.

- Hit validation and counter screening - Confirming hits from initial screens through dose response curves and selectivity assays.

- Assay development - Optimizing buffer compositions, evaluating reagent concentrations for assay protocols.

- Lead optimization - Preparing dilution series of candidate compounds for secondary screening campaigns to identify lead candidates.

Applications in Bioprocessing

In bioprocessing and manufacturing of biologics like monoclonal antibodies, recombinant proteins etc., automated liquid handling plays a key role. Some key applications include:

- Cell line development - Transfection of mammalian cell lines for stable expression of target proteins.

- Fed-batch development - Optimizing feed strategies by automating addition of feeds to bioreactor cultures.

- Downstream processing - Automating buffer exchanges, concentration/diafiltration steps during protein purification workflows.

- Formulation development - Preparing formulations with different buffer systems, stabilizers, and excipients for characterization studies.

- Quality control testing - Automation of bioassays, stability-indicating tests during process and product characterization.

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