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AZ drug discovery robot programed for cancer research

Firm says NiCoLA-B is world's most advanced drug discovery robot

AstraZeneca AZ robot research drug discovery NiCoLA-B 

AstraZeneca has launched what it says is the world's most advanced drug discovery robot and is using it to search for new oncology treatments via a collaboration with Cancer Research UK.

The NiCoLA-B robot can test 300,000 compounds a day - three times as fast as other robots - and may support experiments in 40-50 projects per year, covering 40 million potential drugs.

Through the pharma firm's Open Innovation programme AZ will provide its partners with 'unprecedented access' to NiCoLA-B, which is part of the world's first drug discovery system to use 'acoustic displacement' technology.

This sees sound waves rather than pipettes used to move tiny volumes of liquid from storage tubes to assay plates for testing as potential new medicines.

Alongside its deal with Cancer Research UK, AZ has also signed a deal with the Medical Research Council that will see the partners target a range of diseases where there is a substantial unmet need.

AZ said in a statement: “We are making the new robot available to external research partners through Open Innovation, a programme that establishes research collaborations with scientists outside of AstraZeneca to advance the discovery and development of innovative medicines.

“We believe that programmes such as Open Innovation will become the 'new normal' in medical research, whereby the pharma and biotech industries work with partners from academia, not-for-profit and industry.  In this way, hypotheses can be tested that would not get studied at all if we all worked alone.”

24th January 2017

From: Research



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