At SLAS 2023, companies showcase, launch advanced automation and screening technologies

By Leo O'Connor, Editor in Chief

February 28, 2023 -- At the Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening (SLAS) 2023 International Conference and Exhibition, being held in San Diego from February 25 to March 1, numerous firms have announced that they are showcasing emerging technologies for advanced life science applications.

Among them, PerkinElmer is featuring a multimode plate reader used for demanding high-throughput screening (HTS) applications and to accelerate drug-discovery efforts.

The plate reader, called the EnVision Nexus platform, provides researchers with increased assay flexibility, and leverages complementary microplates and optimized reagents from the firm's drug-discovery reagents portfolio, PerkinElmer said.

It enables researchers to screen millions of samples; for walkaway convenience, it can be equipped with a plate stacker for 20 or 50 plates or be fully automated and integrated for 24/7 workflow-driven automation, the firm added.

At SLAS 2023, PerkinElmer is also demonstrating a fully integrated benchtop system that enables the automated construction of up to 96 next-generation sequencing (NGS) libraries. The Zephyr G3 NGS iQ workstation incorporates a high-performing liquid handler, integrated thermocycler, robotic arm, and all deck accessories and peripherals. The workstation enables laboratories to increase capacity and reduce errors by automating the most complex NGS methods with a higher degree of reproducibility, PerkinElmer said.

On Tuesday, ThinkCyte announced the commercial launch of VisionSort, a cell sorting platform. VisionSort is enabled by Ghost Cytometry, an artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled technology for characterizing and sorting cells based on their physical properties, the firm said.

Tokyo-based ThinkCyte is a biotech firm developing AI-based cell analysis, characterization, and isolation technologies.

VisionSort combines analytical features found in conventional fluorescence flow sorters with the ability to perform label-free cell sorting and unbiased morphological analysis of cell populations.

The combined capabilities can enable researchers to not only view cells based on a combination of known markers and morphological phenotypes, but also sort out unique populations for downstream processing or molecular analysis, the firm said.

Meanwhile, on Monday, Burlington, MA-based Azenta announced the launch of the Cryo Store Pico, an automated cryogenic storage system designed for high-value biological samples used in the many stages of life sciences, from discovery to clinical use. Cryo Store Pico, also known as Pico, is being demonstrated at SLAS 2023.

An extension of the firm's product portfolio, Pico offers a robust feature set for cell and gene therapy developers and manufacturers, including end-stage deployment at the hospital or clinic, Azenta said. With a compact footprint, the cryogenic storage system also provides controlled access and traceability that supports regulatory compliance.

"Pico takes our proven automation capabilities and scales it down for the lab or the clinic, bringing the sample integrity and process rigor of automation closer to the point of use," Erica Waller, product manager for the Pico, said in a statement.

Thrive Bioscience is showcasing an integrated suite of capabilities for live cell imaging at the event. The Wakefield, MA-based firm, a provider of automated live cell imaging instruments and software, is featuring its CellAssist networkable instruments. The instruments enable researchers to automatically capture thousands of time-series images with more than 100 focal planes on one-to-50 cell culture plates within a controlled environment.

The CellAssist family includes a benchtop model and a robotic 50-plate model, each producing comprehensive databases of high-quality images, metrics, and documentation that provide researchers with insights into cell and tissue dynamics, the firm said.

"The CellAssist's unique imaging capabilities have vastly improved organoid imaging, IVF imaging, viral plaque assays, gene editing (CRISPR), and stem cell production for researchers," Thomas Farb-Horch, CEO of Thrive, said in a statement.

Also on Monday at SLAS 2023, Sciex announced a collaboration with Beckman Coulter Life Sciences to provide comprehensive workflows for high-throughput screening; high-throughput absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion (HT-ADME); and synthetic biology studies.

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