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Methods Mol Biol. 2013;1053:53-84. doi: 10.1007/978-1-62703-562-0_4.

Robotic implementation of assays: tissue-nonspecific alkaline phosphatase (TNAP) case study.

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Conrad Prebys Center for Chemical Genomics, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, La Jolla, CA, USA.


Laboratory automation and robotics have "industrialized" the execution and completion of large-scale, enabling high-capacity and high-throughput (100 K-1 MM/day) screening (HTS) campaigns of large "libraries" of compounds (>200 K-2 MM) to complete in a few days or weeks. Critical to the success these HTS campaigns is the ability of a competent assay development team to convert a validated research-grade laboratory "benchtop" assay suitable for manual or semi-automated operations on a few hundreds of compounds into a robust miniaturized (384- or 1,536-well format), well-engineered, scalable, industrialized assay that can be seamlessly implemented on a fully automated, fully integrated robotic screening platform for cost-effective screening of hundreds of thousands of compounds. Here, we provide a review of the theoretical guiding principles and practical considerations necessary to reduce often complex research biology into a "lean manufacturing" engineering endeavor comprising adaption, automation, and implementation of HTS. Furthermore we provide a detailed example specifically for a cell-free in vitro biochemical, enzymatic phosphatase assay for tissue-nonspecific alkaline phosphatase that illustrates these principles and considerations.

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