Thermo Fisher Scientific - Lab informatics

The latest laboratory information management systems (LIMS) can provide the efficient information sharing capability that is crucial to the tasks of eliminating inefficiencies and ensuring the overall success of drug development and production.

The concept of the laboratory information management system (LIMS) has been around since the 1980s. But since its beginnings as an in-house laboratory tool, LIMS has evolved into a highly sophisticated application, capable of integrating and monitoring all aspects of a drug lifecycle. It has therefore eliminated numerous inefficiencies that plagued older, ad-hoc methods of sharing information.

Dave Champagne, vice-president and general manager of informatics and Trish Meek, director of product strategy for life sciences at Thermo Fisher Scientific, believe global sharing of key information is critical to a pharmaceutical company's viability. This level of integration, they believe, can be achieved through a carefully selected LIMS.

"With our distinct, purpose-built LIMS solutions, we use best-in-class technologies and tools to build enterprise-wide solutions that address the entire pharmaceutical value chain, such as Thermo Scientific Watson LIMS in drug research and Thermo Scientific Darwin LIMS in manufacturing," says Champagne. "Our systems help scientists aggregate their data in real time and look for relationships or trends that are relevant to understanding complex global projects."

Error free

LIMS significantly reduces error-prone manual processes and ensures data accuracy by directly interfacing with instruments and automatically capturing analyses from the source. Data is seamlessly transferred into the system, which contains its own built-in error checking and validation to ensure accuracy. "It is designed to be a secure, centralised repository for your data," says Meek.

LIMS can also cross-link data with other systems in the enterprise, such as manufacturing execution, production control or enterprise resource planning systems that control formulations. LIMS ensures that information is not simply logged-in but also maintained in relationship to its sample and analysis relevance.

"For example, if drug discovery data reveals that a component has failed a clinical trial or was not a good fit, but has an alternative use without an adverse toxicology effect, the ability to access that information in other stages of the development cycle would be critical," says Meek.

"Research scientists benefit from knowing which samples to exclude due to a previous adverse reaction and toxicology results discovered in related research," says Champagne. "Biologists and computational chemists must work together to identify strong drug candidates and help bring them to market. This brings a lot of different terminologies and challenges to understanding what the information means, where it exists and what has already been done. LIMS can simplify and harmonise this process."

Critical points to consider when choosing a LIMS solution:

  • Is the LIMS purpose built for your specific laboratory environment?
  • Will the solutions be scaleable and future-proof and will they grow with the organisation?
  • Will the LIMS facilitate an end-to-end workflow from discovery to manufacturing?

Many pharmaceutical companies still silo their information in a particular lab or department and this prevents scientists from collaborating on projects, resulting in numerous inefficiencies,' continues Champagne. 'In fact, many of the companies we deal with acknowledge that they have duplicated work because scientists were unaware that a particular compound had already been studied elsewhere in their organisation.'

Easy to use

Thermo Scientific LIMS are highly configurable, and modifications can be achieved through their easy-to-use graphical user interface, which controls decision rules and workflow and allows sensitive data to be protected through user roles and groups. "Laboratories can not only prevent access to certain information within the system, they can also create easy to use interfaces generated for a particular user's workflow," says Meek.

Integrating a Thermo Scientific LIMS into a laboratory system is now easier. "As part of our platform that is built on open standards, we have built an integration layer that lets our LIMS interface with just about any system out there and tie right into it. We also have our consultants work on-site during the implementation phase," concludes Champagne. end

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