No Room for Error in Drug Discovery Laboratory

Laboratory Challenge

The drug discovery process often starts in a High-Throughput Screening (HTS) laboratory. Screening campaigns typically use a number of automated liquid handlers to dispense a variety of solutions and run assays with small amounts of compounds in high concentrations. Volumes inaccurate by microliters can significantly alter assay results. For accurate and precise data, these laboratories must verify that all instrumentation is dispensing uniformly, and equipment validation is critical.

The HTS laboratory at a biopharmaceutical company involved in molecular and cellular research used a calibration method based on tartrazine dye for liquid handling quality assurance. This process was tedious and time consuming, requiring the production of calibration curves before each validation. In addition, data was stored on the individual computers of the technicians performing the calibration, hindering systematic and consistent collection of reproducible data.


To bring efficiency and standardization to its HTS laboratory’s liquid handling operations, the company implemented the Artel MVS Multichannel Verification System. Rapid and robust, the MVS enables the laboratory to optimize the volume transfer performance of its automated liquid handlers and streamline calibration and documentation processes.

The MVS also allows the laboratory to verify that the same amount of liquid is being transferred and that its results are comparable with each liquid handler, so that one microliter from one instrument is the same as one microliter from another, even when those two devices are measured in different labs or on different days.

As opposed to the time-consuming tartrazine method, requiring about two hours per system calibration, the MVS performs measurements in less than ten minutes. This rapid volume verification facilitates frequent calibration without diminishing productivity.


The MVS has helped this HTS laboratory discover that what technicians thought were the same target volumes on different systems were actually different. With its new robust liquid handling quality assurance program, the laboratory continues to reap the speed and efficiency-enhancing benefits of its automated liquid handlers without second-guessing quality.