Top Trends in Laboratory Informatics

Pharma IQ

In the pharmaceutical industry's quest for cost cutting, no part of the drug development pipeline has been left untouched.

Lab professionals are now expected to deal with increasing amounts of data in a shorter space of time, with smaller budgets.

Not only is this placing pressure on human resources, but the physical resources used for laboratory informatics are also feeling the strain.

The shift from a paper-based lab to a digital space is one which has been occurring for some time, but simple laboratory information management systems are no longer bringing about the efficiencies required.

As is the case with consumer electronics, fewer systems are now expected to carry out a greater number of tasks – and interact seamlessly with each other.

Elsevier and PerkinElmer recently announced Reaxys is now interoperable with PerkinElmer Informatics industry-leading E-Notebook. Reaxys is one of several online solutions from publisher of The Lancet Elsevier, including SciVerse ScienceDirect, SciVerse Scopus, MD Consult and Nursing Consult.

The collaboration allows information on journals and patents from Reaxys to be combined with in house findings on the ELN, meaning chemical compounds, related physical and pharmacological properties, and synthesis information can be integrated at the appropriate point in the workflow.
Mark van Mierle, managing director of Elsevier's Pharma and Biotech Group, said: "Reaxys information is relevant to a broad audience of researchers. In collaboration with PerkinElmer Informatics we extend Reaxys to support new workflows, benefiting the individual researcher and the organisation."

Labs which do not implement more sophisticated laboratory informatics are likely to increasingly find themselves falling further behind.

Accelrys president and chief executive officer Max Carnecchia, noted: "ELNs are quickly becoming the standard in global R&D labs, from pharmaceutical development to academic research.

And their benefits are intended to be felt far beyond the lab. Greater used of predictive and simulation technology means that failures are less likely to be seen further down the drug development pipeline, when they are more difficult to correct.

Nippon Shinyaku Co, which recently implemented Accelrys Electronic Laboratory Notebook in two of its labs, did so for two key reasons. Firstly, they saw the move from paper to a more flexible electronic system as boosting efficiency and accelerating patent application times.

In addition, it needed to respond more quickly to changing regulatory requirements requiring products to be tracked back to the beginning of the product planning cycle.

The key point is that implementing a laboratory informatics system for the current requirements of a lab is not enough. Cutting IT costs through the use of fewer software solutions will not lead to lower expenses in the future if they are unable move on as the lab evolves.

As EdgeBio recently highlighted when it employed the GenoLogics Laboratory Information Management System in its next-generation sequencing core laboratory, any system must meet with changing customer demands.

"We required a LIMS that was built specifically for genomics applications and that would easily integrate with our labs existing instrumentation platforms, yet we wanted our lab to have the flexibility to adapt to future advanced sequencing technologies," Justin Johnson, director of bioinformatics at EdgeBio, explained.

The lab informatics industry is also seeing greater convergence as companies require their devices to do more.  Michael H Elliot, writing for Scientific Computing, highlighted that an unprecedented number of mergers are now taking place, with PerkinElmer among those which has been making a number of acquisitions recently.

However, the challenge for these companies is providing customers will all the functions they require from their laboratory informatics system, while at the same time offering an interface which is user friendly – and likely a significant space away from the paper designs traditionally used.

"Balance is possible, but the highly competitive nature of the market and feature demands of potential clients make it a difficult challenge for any vendor

"The future of ELN will require innovative and disruptive thinking to provide users with an engaging user experience far above traditional approaches," Elliot concluded.

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