Freeman Dyson famously said, “the great advances in science usually result from new tools rather than from new doctrine.”
Today we talk with Mark Fischer-Colbrie, CEO of Labcyte, a company which has made some waves--literally-- in the life sciences by changing a very fundamental laboratory procedure: liquid transfer. For some years now, Labcyte has been selling machines that move liquid around with sound. By eliminating the need for pipette tips and other “solid” surfaces, the machines guarantee much more precision.
“Science demands precision and in ever-increasing amounts,” says Mark at the outset of today’s interview.
Acting like a rifle shooting liquid straight up, the new acoustic technology has made inroads into most life science applications. Mark talks about the Finnish Institute for Molecular Medicine (FIMM) using the new technology to do truly personalized medicine, by ex-vivo screening of cancer patient cells against hundreds of available drugs. There is often precious little sample to work with, and the errors from traditional pipetting might mean the difference of life or death. The machine is also used widely by the pharma and synthetic biology communities for its ability to reduce costs.
“Imagine saving four months on a single drug discovery cycle,” says Mark.
Recently, Astra Zeneca has integrated acoustic technology into mass spectrometry, showing the potential to immediately upgrade other tools which have been around for some time.
Should everyone change over to acoustic dispensing?