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Market profile: Electronic Lab Notebooks.

As laboratory instrumentation has become more automated, it makes sense that methods of recording and sharing data would also evolve. Until recently, though, the paperless lab has been a novelty; the limitations of switching from a paper notebook to an electronic one and a system intuitive enough to improve efficiency, at that--have relegated such ideas to the realm of science fiction.

Today, however, increasingly complex regulations and new technologies that enhance collaborative research have led to a renewed interest in electronic laboratory notebooks (ELNs). Although the ease with which computer documents can change may make many labs hesitant to abandon the palpable security of paper, ELNs ensure that electronic databases and spreadsheets that are produced by researchers meet the legal requirements of 21 CFR Part 11.

Some, like the eLab Notebook from Waters, are designed to fit the needs of many kinds of labs. Waters installed itself in the notebook market with its purchase of Creon Lab Control (see IBO 7/31/03) last summer. Based on common software like Microsoft Word and Excel, generic ELNs like the eLab Notebook are intended to be easy for researchers to use. To replicate the feel of traditional paper notebooks, they use technologies that allow graphs, spreadsheets or images to be merged into documents. And by using the archiving and search capabilities of computers, data and notes can be indexed and located much more easily, providing a welcome respite from the clutter of paper. Notable generic ELNs include CambridgeSoft's E-Notebook Enterprise; GenSys Software's GenSys/ELN; France-based Klee Group's Kalabie; LABTrack, which is produced and distributed by AVATAR Consulting and EKM; and Note-BookMaker, which operates around FileMaker Pro software.

Other ELNs are designed to meet regulations and processes of specific life science applications, although their manufacturers are quick to point out that they can also be configured for general use. IntelliChem has developed six suites targeted toward drug discovery and development labs. In addition to recording and archiving, IntelliChem's software can, for instance, help process chemists concoct recipes and enable bioprocess engineers to track samples as they are fermented and purified. Pharmaceutical ELNs include Tripos's Electronic Notebook and VelQuest's SmartLab System. Rescentris makes an ELN--the CERF-Notebook--for genomics research. ELNs for chemistry labs include the Arthur Suite from Synthematix, the DeltaSoft DeltaBook, MDL's Elan and ChemInnovation's Chemical and Biological Innovation Systems (CBIS).

ELN software generally costs no more than other software applications--a factor that makes it attractive to both large and small labs. And since research data has continued to increase with instrument sensitivity, ELNs look to be more than a short-lived trend.

Electronic Lab Notebooks At A Glance: Selected Suppliers

* Gensys

* IntelliChem

* Tripos

* VelQuest

* Waters

Selected Markets

* Biotechnology

* Chemical

* Pharmaceutical
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Publication:Instrument Business Outlook
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 15, 2004
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