For over a hundred years scientists, engineers, and technicians have used paper-based methods to document research, experiments, and procedures performed in the laboratory. Particularly for large laboratories with extensive quantities of data demanding strict management, print notebooks are simply no longer feasible. Not only is data management an issue, but many scientific corporations outsource their research to contract research organizations (CROs), meaning the vast number of people and locations involved in a research project can be very broad. It is therefore a challenge to view all data in one place and collaborate easily.
In today’s age of digital data, the paper notebook has given way to the electronic laboratory notebook (ELN). The global ELN market is expected to reach $557.9 million by 2023 from $401.3 million in 2018.1 ELNs offer a wide range of benefits over the original paper-based methods, which include improving the ease of compliance, enhanced tracking, and the use of digital archiving. ELNs also allow laboratories to simplify data copying and backups, and support collaboration among users across a number of locations. Using an ELN means data is automatically backed up as a copy and can be stored on the cloud or locally, therefore enabling numerous backups across multiple locations. The following example illustrates how a leading biotechnology company has transformed its laboratory since adopting an ELN.
From paper workflow to an ELN
ADC Therapeutics (ADCT) is a clinical-stage oncology drug discovery and development company focused on advancing propriety antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) for the treatment of hematological cancers and solid tumors. The company was founded in 2012 and now has multiple sites across the world including Lausanne, Switzerland; London; New Jersey; and San Francisco. All ADCT sites are dedicated to efficiently progressing their potential best-in-class PBD-armed ADCs to address significant unmet medical needs and improve outcomes for people with cancer.
Challenges of using a paper workflow
Based on the sheer amount of data that ACDT produced, it was no longer attainable to continue using paper notebooks to record research and results. The paper notebook method proved to be extremely time-consuming, with users having to scan, print, and compile data. Finding the required documents, data, and information contributed to a strain on efficiency and productivity within the laboratories.
Furthermore, without the ability to easily share data and information, work and collaborate efficiently, and transfer methods between sites, it was a challenge to maintain global consistency across ACDT’s sites. It is vital to maintain consistency and have the ability to share data and research across all locations to ensure everyone at ACDT is working as a single entity.
Investment in the ELN
ADCT made it a priority to increase efficiency, productivity, and collaboration by migrating from a paper workflow to an electronic laboratory notebook. In 2012, an ELN was implemented into ADCT’s laboratories. Just a few months following the implementation of the ELN, ADCT found the number of samples that could be analyzed vastly increased, as the lab team could write the experiments and results in less than one hour. The team estimated they gained one day per week by using the ELN rather than having to search, scan, print, and compile everything together in a printed lab notebook. ADCT now has tablets for recording information that can be added in real time, meaning not only are they saving time, but also reducing the chance of error.
This specific ELN allowed ADCT to link and integrate all information and assets into one system. The linked and integrated data makes it easy for any member of the lab team to find the right protocol, asset, or entity to improve the success of their research, and troubleshoot problems more quickly. With a more complete and integrated knowledge management system, the ADCT lab teams can make decisions faster and meet key milestones more quickly and efficiently.
The impact of implementing an ELN
It is evident from the optimization of ADCT’s workflow that there is a demonstrable return on investment in using digital workflow management. The increased ability to streamline data management gives scientists more time to focus on innovation, knowing that their data is secure and is of high accuracy and quality.
It is highly important that an ELN is secure, compliant, web- and cloud-based, and enables biotech, life sciences, and pharma companies, as well as academic institutions, to run labs more efficiently and maximize research output.
ADCT’s investment in Labguru’s ELN has enabled a higher throughput of sample analysis and completed experiments. This has allowed the team to make decisions faster and meet milestones to help meet their scientific and commercial goals more quickly.
To learn more about Labguru, visit www.labguru.com.
Steve Yemm is CEO at BioData; e-mail: [email protected]; www.biodata.com