How to Revolutionise Your R&D with Automated Liquid Handlers

  • Automated liquid handlers offer scientists higher throughput and greater reproducibility

  • However, their programming is not intuitive to biologists and they are not straightforward to use

  • A new graphical interface that requires zero coding skills is changing this

  • The platform, Antha, was built by biologists and facilitates intuitive protocol design in seconds

The pipette has been one of scientists’ most valuable tools. Over the past century, it has evolved remarkably, from Pasteur to air displacement to multichannel, with the latest advancement being a fully automated liquid handling robot.

Whilst automated liquid handlers have recently become more popular due to the high throughput and reproducibility they offer, they also come with significant limitations that have restricted their use in many science labs.

In a recent online demo, Scientific Solutions Consultant Luke Cach reveals how our software platform Antha overcomes these limitations, allowing scientists to successfully implement automated liquid handling in their labs and maximise efficiency of their R&D.

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Programming a Liquid Handler Is Not Straightforward

Adopting lab automation equipment, including liquid handling robots, has been a challenge for many scientists. The need for extensive programming knowledge, the inflexible automation protocols and their laborious development have deterred many potential users.

These challenges lie largely at the user-interface of vendor software that supports these automation devices. Programming languages offered by vendors are not intuitive to most biologists and limit device users to automation engineers. This raises the barrier to the use of lab automation and comes with increased staff costs.

Even with the help of an engineer, building automation protocols is a time-intensive process. Because most protocols are inflexible and cannot be easily adapted, a new protocol has to be written for every single run to adjust experimental steps or conditions. This issue is multiplied further when you want to switch to a different liquid handling robot or change the deck layout.

How Can Antha Realise the Full Potential of Your Liquid Handling Robots?

Our software platform Antha takes a new approach to designing liquid handling workflows. Users can create device-agnostic, flexible automation protocols in a codeless interface with no programming experience required.

In the same way scientists manually perform experiments step by step, Antha allows its users to build workflows in silico by connecting liquid transfer steps in a string of events. The software then does all the heavy lifting by optimising each liquid transfer for efficiency and translating them all into code to program the selected liquid handling robot to execute the workflow.

Prior to execution, users can perform in silico simulation to identify any potential errors and optimise the workflow. This eliminates the need for numerous wet runs to test the protocols and therefore saves time and resources.

The in silico simulation feature also presents an overview of the experimental set-up on the deck of the selected liquid handler and identifies required materials. Scientists are then ready to set up the assay and run the protocol as soon as they enter the lab, with no additional planning or troubleshooting needed.

Antha also provides complete sample provenance, making the protocols transferable across different devices and even across different labs. Antha’s cloud-based environment facilitates protocol and data sharing between research groups and organisations.

How Does Antha Work?

By eliminating the barriers to automation, Antha unlocks the full potential of liquid handling robots and empowers R&D. But how exactly does it work?

Our weekly online demos are a great opportunity to see Antha in action and learn how you can quickly become an automation expert, increase your productivity in the lab, and revolutionise your science. Each demo is accompanied by a live Q&A session, where you can have your questions answered by our Antha experts.

Click here to access the full on-demand recording of the Liquid Handling demo and to unlock our other demos.