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There is an urgent need to accelerate the development and validation of both diagnostics and vaccines for COVID-19. These priorities are challenging both public and private sector research groups around the world and have shone a spotlight on both existing bottlenecks in the research workflows involved as well as on the implications of having to do much of this work remotely because of enforced social distancing and lockdown measures. The ability to respond quickly to rapidly evolving events, coupled with an emerging understanding of the disease and its pathology, as well as different mutations of the virus, necessitates a highly flexible liquid-handling automation solution that is amenable to rapid switching between different assay workflows and processes to be exploited tactically as needed. In addition, the use of cloud-based software imparts a unique benefit in enabling multiple research groups and remote technical staff around the world to have ready access to the same protocols in real-time without delays, down to the required level of detail, sharing methods and data (for example, in faster clinical trials). Informed by a recent use case, this article explores these issues alongside the recent development and deployment of an automation solution, whose unique approach in terms of both its cloud-native software and its highly modular hardware aligns especially well with achieving the challenge set by this new frontier in the bioanalytical laboratory.


Piero Zucchelli, Giorgio Horak, Nigel Skinner. Highly Versatile Cloud-Based Automation Solution for the Remote Design and Execution of Experiment Protocols during the COVID-19 Pandemic. SLAS technology. 2021 Apr;26(2):127-139

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PMID: 33210978

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