Lab Automation 2000: Optimism and Growth Highlight Event.The eleventh annual Laboratory Automation conference, organized by the Association for Laboratory Automation, took place January 22 to 26 in Palm Springs, California Palm Springs is a famed Riverside County, California desert resort city, approximately 110 miles (177 km) east of Los Angeles and 140 miles (225 km) northeast of San Diego. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 42,807. . The mood of the conference was one of enthusiasm and optimism. The rapid growth of the lab automation market and the numerous new products and innovative technologies has made it one of the most exciting and closely watched segments of the analytical instrument market. The number of companies attending, some only recently formed, and the number of evolving techniques discussed at the conference illustrated the growing popularity of this market.
Attendance was the highest ever for both registrants and exhibitors, with over 2300 participants and more than 100 exhibitors. Corporate sponsors included Beckman Coulter This article needs sources or references that appear in reliable, third-party publications. Alone, primary sources and sources affiliated with the subject of this article are not sufficient for an accurate encyclopedia article. , Becton Dickinson BD (NYSE: BDX), is a medical technology company that manufactures and sells medical devices, instrument systems and reagents. Founded in 1897 and headquartered in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, BD employs 27,000 people in nearly 50 countries. , PerkinElmer Life Sciences and Zymark. Previously held in San Diego San Diego (săn dēā`gō), city (1990 pop. 1,110,549), seat of San Diego co., S Calif., on San Diego Bay; inc. 1850. San Diego includes the unincorporated communities of La Jolla and Spring Valley. Coronado is across the bay. , the conference benefited from its new location as it provided exhibitors with more space and a more manageable layout for attendees.
Exhibitors ranged from industry heavyweights, such as PE Biosystems and Beckman Coulter, to companies that were making their first appearance, such as ReTiSoft Software and Cellomics. In contrast to past years, there were fewer clinical products and more software vendors among the exhibitors.
The conference began with the presentation of the Beckman Lecture Award to Eric Lander Eric Steven Lander (b. February 3, 1957) is a Professor of Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a member of the Whitehead Institute, and director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard who has devoted his career toward realizing the promise of the human of the Whitehead Institute/MIT Center for Genome Research Genome Research is the title of a peer-reviewed scientific journal published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press. The focus of the journal is on genome-wide studies in any organism, including single gene studies that are placed in a genomic context. , a project to identify, describe and disseminate human genome The human genome is the genome of Homo sapiens, which is composed of 24 distinct pairs of chromosomes (22 autosomal + X + Y) with a total of approximately 3 billion DNA base pairs containing an estimated 20,000–25,000 genes. information. In his talk, Mr. Lander stressed the importance of lab automation to the future of genomic research and emphasized that once the human genome is sequenced, "the real work" will have just begun. Among the goals of the post-sequencing work will be to understand human genetic variation, which will require the simultaneous genotyping of 100,000 SNPs without individual locus-specific amplification. Another goal is to dissect dissect /dis·sect/ (di-sekt´) (di-sekt´)
1. to cut apart, or separate.
2. to expose structures of a cadaver for anatomical study.
v. multiple genomic physiological traits. To accomplish this, the automated measurement of the physiology of whole animals must be improved. Another goal is the classification of disease states. The challenge that lab automation must meet to accomplish this is the improved measurements of RNA RNA: see nucleic acid.
in full ribonucleic acid
One of the two main types of nucleic acid (the other being DNA), which functions in cellular protein synthesis in all living cells and replaces DNA as the carrier of genetic and protein expression and improved computational tools. The final goal discussed by Mr. Lander was the dissection of cellular pathways, which will require either massive screening to create libraries or a rapid general recipe. Despite the dramatic advances in the last decade, genomic research will continue to demand more and more of lab automation.
The plenary session Plenary session is a term often used in s to define the part of the conference when all members of all parties are in attendance.
These sessions may contain a broad range of content from Keynotes to Panel Discussions and are not necessarily related to a specific style of delivery. also featured Arthur L. Holden, chairman and chief executive officer of the SNP SNP Scottish National Party
Noun 1. SNP - (genetics) genetic variation in a DNA sequence that occurs when a single nucleotide in a genome is altered; SNPs are usually considered to be point mutations that have been evolutionarily Consortium, a nonprofit collaboration of pharmaceutical companies, academic research centers and the Wellcome Trust to produce a high quality, high density genome SNP map available to the public at no cost. Mr. Holden discussed the uniqueness of the collaboration and its formation as a way to share the expense of creating the map and to do it more quickly without duplicating efforts. The goal of the two-year project is to identify a minimum of 300,000 SNPs and map at least 170,000 SNPs. Currently, the Consortium has identified 55,000 SNPs. He also announced that IBM (International Business Machines Corporation, Armonk, NY, www.ibm.com) The world's largest computer company. IBM's product lines include the S/390 mainframes (zSeries), AS/400 midrange business systems (iSeries), RS/6000 workstations and servers (pSeries), Intel-based servers (xSeries) had joined the Consortium.
Announcements and product introductions are a staple of LabAutomation 2000 and this year was no different. Among the new companies debuting products at the conference were Cybio and RNAture. Cybio introduced the CyBi Screen Machine for modular high-throughput screening, which features a rotating arm. RNAture, a subsidiary of Hitachi Chemical Research Center, introduced the mRNA Express kit, its first product, for gene expression analysis.
Another major product introduction was Beckman Coulter's Biomek FX Laboratory Automation Workstation for high-throughput applications. The system features the new Biomek FX Nucleic Acid nucleic acid, any of a group of organic substances found in the chromosomes of living cells and viruses that play a central role in the storage and replication of hereditary information and in the expression of this information through protein synthesis. Preparation system, which allows the first ever automation of many DNA DNA: see nucleic acid.
or deoxyribonucleic acid
One of two types of nucleic acid (the other is RNA); a complex organic compound found in all living cells and many viruses. It is the chemical substance of genes. preparation functions, the new Biomek FX High-Throughput Screening Solution, which combines two liquid handling arms in one instrument, and the new Biomek FX Plate Replication System. According to Beckman Coulter, the new models embody the trends towards high density assay formats, reduced reagent consumption and workstation-based automation.
The conference in part functions as a forum for the presentation of new technologies and developments. Among the developing technologies presented at the conference were Cepheid's microDiagnostics system, which adapts advanced microstructures to microfluidics for applications in pathogen detection in foods and the environment as well as biowarfare defense, Nanogen's "make your own chip" technology, and 3D Pharmaceuticals' ThermoFluor assay technology, which measures drug-binding affinity through effects on the thermal melting transition temperature of protein-drug complexes.
The technical program consisted of talks on molecular diagnostics, high-throughput screening, genomics, software advances, standards, clinical issues, combinatory chemistry, microtechnologies, informatics, compound management, the Internet, biotechnology, bioanalytical techniques, mass spectrometry mass spectrometry
or mass spectroscopy
Analytic technique by which chemical substances are identified by sorting gaseous ions by mass using electric and magnetic fields. and detection. Many of the talks showcased companies' new products or addressed specific technical problems and developments. The demand for faster, less expensive, more efficient and more accurate instruments is one of the paramount concerns for companies. Microfluidics and 1536-well plates are among the most promising solutions to some of these problems and were often addressed during the small talks. Also addressed were solutions to HTS HTS Heights
HTS Harmonized Tariff System
HTS High Throughput Screening (biomolecular assay screening)
HTS High-Throughput Screening (Pharmaceutical Industry)
HTS Harmonized Tariff Schedule bottlenecks, the overwhelming amount of data generated by HTS and the difficulties of miniaturization min·i·a·tur·ize
tr.v. min·i·a·tur·ized, min·i·a·tur·iz·ing, min·i·a·tur·iz·es
To plan or make on a greatly reduced scale.
Matt Sills of Novartis Pharmaceuticals provided a customer's views of laboratory automation, raising practical questions regarding the expense and inefficiencies of the drug development process, asking "Is high-throughput screening becoming too expensive?" With the next generation of automated systems for high-throughput screening estimated to cost $20 million and the dramatic increase in price for upgrades, cost is increasingly a concern for customers. Consequently, pharmaceutical companies and other purchasers have less tolerance for problems and will more thoroughly evaluate new technologies and conduct more stringent cost-benefit analyses. For all of its advantages, high throughput screening has also created problems including assay development delays and an inefficient translation of leads to development. In the future, he stressed, both capacity and resource levels must be improved.
Next year's Lab Automation conference is scheduled for January 27 to 31, 2001 and will again take place in Palm Springs. EuroLab Automation 2000, also organized by the Association for Laboratory Automation, is scheduled for October 24 to 27 in London.