On January 25th I had the pleasure of attending the Festival of Genomics and Biodata that returned as an in-person event after being held virtually for two years. It truly returned with a bang, bigger and busier than ever, with eight streams of scientific talks, over 90 exhibitors, and over 4000 attendees. It was a vibrant event that attracted a broad range of genomics-minded delegates from academia, industry, and public sector. I was very excited to take part in the Festival of Genomics and Biodata and hear about the cutting-edge research, check out the developments in instrument and reagent space, and glean the emerging trends and technologies. It was also a great opportunity to bring two of our instruments, dragonfly discovery and apricot S3, and discuss how they can meet the genomics needs of the attendees attracted to the bright SPT Labtech booth!
I got the distinct impression that the focus is shifting from large-scale PCR-based testing and pathogen sequencing associated with the COVID-19 pandemic to other topics, and two themes particularly stood out to me:
All the scientific talks and conversations with vendors and attendees at the Festival of Genomics and Biodata left me with the thought that it is truly an exciting time for laboratory automation! The complexity of the cutting-edge omics protocols often makes them inefficient or even unfeasible for manual execution. Laboratory automation is excellent at performing highly precise repetitive tasks in a reproducible and tightly controlled manner, with the added benefit of freeing skilled scientists to focus on activities that add more value, such as designing sophisticated experiments and analysing data.
There is certainly a desire for complete workflow solutions: from sample to answer, including experimental data management. Traditionally, laboratory automation has been focusing on running relatively fixed workflows and protocols reliably. However, researchers in academia as well as in industry are increasingly looking for additional flexibility to develop and elaborate their own methods at pace. Such flexibility can be offered by agile, easily integrated, and user-friendly laboratory automation with a low entry barrier. SPT Labtech instruments truly embody these values by allowing scientists to hit the ground running and create customised protocols with ease!
It was echoed in multiple talks and discussion that traditional sample preparation methods struggle with the extremely low amount of input material in single-cell applications. In my opinion, the answer to this challenge lies in collaboration and co-development between laboratory automation providers, reagent providers, and labware providers. Successful execution of single-cell protocols calls for reliable handling of low volumes of challenging liquid classes, often possible only with an automated liquid handler geared for experiment miniaturisation, such as SPT Labtech firefly or the combination of mosquito and dragonfly discovery. However, sophisticated liquid handlers cannot do it alone, and the reaction chemistry and high-quality application-appropriate labware are essential for delivering superior experimental results. Based on the fruitful discussions with the reagents and labware providers at the Festival of Genomics and Biodata, this view is shared.
For all of us working at SPT Labtech (and in laboratory automation space in general), it’s time to be bold and ambitious to empower scientists in their daring pursuits!
By: Maryia Karpiyevich
Senior Applications Development Scientist