Whether you have banks of cell lines stored in liquid nitrogen or assay reagents constantly consumed, managing your inventory is necessary to keep your lab running smoothly. That means having processes and workflows in place to guarantee the lab is working at peak efficiency, as well as having the proper material and infrastructure to track and manage your assets. Below, we’ll discuss some of the ways you can efficiently manage your inventory and keep track of everything in your lab.
Errors occur every day in healthcare institutions and research facilities. Medical lab errors can be very costly, setting hospitals back hundreds (sometimes thousands) of dollars for every mislabeled sample, causing irreparable harm to the physical and mental health of the patient. Errors in research also have a broad impact, skewing results and wasting precious materials—which are often irreplaceable—and years of effort.
So, you’ve decided to purchase a set of labels and a label printer, but you haven’t figured out which software you should install to design your labels with. There are several different options, from basic software that comes with the printer to specialized software, such as BarTender™ and Label Matrix™, each of which can be used on their own or as part of a laboratory information management system (LIMS). Here, we’ll review some of the pros and cons of each option.
Artificial intelligence (AI) has been a popular topic ever since it was introduced in 1956 by John McCarthy. It quickly captured the imagination of Hollywood, leading to many blockbuster movies being made using AI as a plot device, including the Terminator franchise. However, until now AI has remained as only science fiction, as it’s only recently that computers have become powerful enough to integrate AI into something appreciably functional, allowing some of the top companies in the world, such as Google, IBM, and Apple, to design systems that learn on their own. Gartner, a research and advisory company who publishes a yearly list of the most hyped technologies (termed the Gartner Hype Cycle), has placed AI-associated technologies at the top of their list.1 With companies like PathAI, Freenome, and Benevolent AI all entering the market, it hasn’t taken long for scientists to adapt AI to solving complex biological and medical problems as well.
CRISPR/Cas9, originally discovered in 1987 by a team of Japanese scientists and later refined by Jennifer Doudna in 2012, is a gene-editing tool that can cut and paste any genomic sequence, either in vitro or in vivo. It’s a system that relies on clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) to recognize foreign DNA and is mainly used in bacteria to fight off viral infection. This tool has garnered a lot of attention recently as researchers have tailored CRISPR/Cas9 to edit animal genomes in ways that were previously impossible or inefficient, revolutionizing genetic and biomedical research. CRISPR/Cas9 has become a crucial resource for labs who require stable cell lines or mice with knockouts, knock-ins, or gene mutations, able to drive constitutive gene activation or to edit micro-RNA and long-noncoding RNA.
As the complexity of pre-clinical and clinical testing has increased over the last decade, labs have been challenged with collecting, processing, and storing more and more samples on a daily basis. To minimize errors and keep lab efficiency strong, labs depend on robust identification solutions, consisting of high-quality barcode labels, tags, and tapes. The laboratory environment has been characterized by ongoing rapid and dramatic innovation, including the implementation of high-throughput techniques that often require the labeling of large amounts of small sample tubes, such as cryo vials, microtubes, and PCR tubes.
In our previous post we introduced the basics of how Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) works. We also briefly touched upon the way it might help researchers in the lab. Here we will go more in depth over the many uses for this novel technology in the research environment.
If you've read our previous blogs, you already know about printing and barcode technologies and the key role they play in improving identification, traceability and productivity. But did you know that there's another power technology that businesses and laboratories are using to accomplish even more? Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is an established technology dating back to its earliest prototypes in 1973, when engineer Mario Cardullo first patented a device that could emit a coded signal in response to remote radio frequencies. Today it exists as a powerful identification tool used in a wide array of industries. It can keep record of medications in hospitals, allow authorized personnel in secure areas, and provides invaluable support to inventory and supply chain tracking. It’s likely that you’ve encountered this technology in your day-to day life, whether speeding through checkouts with your tap-to-pay chip, stepping through scanners on your way out of the store, or scanning your toll pass on the way to work.
When choosing the print-on-demand labeling solution that’s right for your application, it is important to take into consideration what printing method you will be using. The choice of a printer can greatly affect the durability of your labels, as well as the type of applications they can be used in. There are several options available to choose from, each with their own benefits and drawbacks.