In drug discovery, pharmaceutical scientists often use high-throughput screening (HTS) to identify candidates for new medicines. To get the most from the assays, companies frequently automate some of the steps. But automated HTS is used in more than pharmaceutical studies, and the applications keep expanding. For now, big pharmaceutical companies buy and use much of the equipment sold for automated HTS.
Larger biotechnology companies that specialize in biotherapeutics also use considerable HTS automation. Also, contract research organizations (CROs), like Charles River, automate some HTS processes. Even some universities set up automated HTS.
When asked about the major components of an automated HTS platform, Kevin Moore, head of markets and applications at Tecan, says that a key part is liquid handling. He should know after running HTS at Merck in the U.K. and 12 years at Tecan. Moore also notes the detection component. “At some point, you need some sort of readout,” he says, and that could be something like Tecan’s Spark multimode microplate reader or mass spectrometry. Other items can include robotic arms, centrifuges, sealers, shakers, stirrers, and so on.