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Discovery
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Christoph Eberle

What's Hot in 2021: Laboratory Automation

Automation technologies will progressively enter laboratory spaces. Already they are changing the way we work to develop therapies and diagnose diseases.

      
Time remains the most valuable asset in drug discovery and development. Though many new modalities WHATSHOTLOGO--200x269are advancing in company pipelines, most recently in immuno-oncology, cell and gene therapies, it still takes 10-15 years on average to bring a candidate to market. Anything that helps shorten this timeline can be crucial to getting treatments to patients and to arm companies with a strategic advantage. A key factor in these considerations is laboratory automation. Experts forecast that its global market size will double to approximately US$8.5 billion over the next six years. This anticipated growth will be driven by increased demand for miniaturized assay formats and for integrating artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics in routine workflows. When adapted to drug development, these emerging technologies offer tools and approaches, for example to plan and execute virtual experiments; to simplify and standardize data analyses and analytical processes or to reduce biological sample volumes required for readouts honoring 3R principles (replacement, reduction, refinement). Likewise, the next generation of biomimicry like lab-on-a-chip (LoC) and human organs-on-chips may partially replace animal model research, if findings from these microfluidic devices are translatable.     
  
 -- Christoph S. Eberle, PhD, MICR, FRSPH, Principal Scientist II, Discovery Oncology Charles River