Associate Principal Scientist Sample Management / Discovery Sciences / AstraZeneca
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Innovative design and deployment of novel labware, instrumentation and software technologies have delivered an automated, fully acoustic platform and a step-change in small molecule Sample Management (SM) processes. For many years, conventional SM workflows have included multiple sample transfers between vessels, using a hybrid of contact and non-contact dispensing, which are cumulatively wasteful. These combine to affect excessive sample consumption, necessitating chemists to synthesise superfluous quantities of compound. Here we show high quality concordant datasets from the first fully acoustic workflow for physico-chemical, enzymatic, cellular and in vitro ADME assays. We also show a reduction in (i) sample usage in these assays, (ii) DMSO usage throughout the process, and (iii) future synthesis requirements. An acoustically compatible storage tube (FluidX™ AcoustiX™ Sample Tubes, Brooks Life Sciences, UK) was designed with optimum geometry for dispensing accuracy and speed, whilst maintaining a working sample volume able to sustain a 10-year screening lifetime. Co-moulded capping technology for these tubes has resulted in increased durability for multiple dispense access and sample longevity, whilst a novel split barcode at the base affords a central opening for transmission of the acoustic pulse. A tube-compatible acoustic liquid handler (Echo® 655T Liquid Handler, Beckman Coulter Life Sciences, USA) has been designed to utilise acoustically compatible storage tubes including a faster drop-transfer rate via a new transducer-focussing mechanism. A new dryer system removes moisture on the exterior of the tube, alongside local humidity control in the drop-transfer zone to maintain sample integrity. The development of a new, fully acoustic workflow has minimised sample handling and waste, enabling miniaturisation of assays and hence reducing the amounts of sample required for synthesis to support drug discovery projects. We have implemented and validated novel labware and instruments for a transformative and sustainable solution to many drug discovery issues applicable across the industry.