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Hamilton Installs Integrated, Automated Compound Storage and Screening System at UNC

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Hamilton Robotics and Storage Technologies announces the delivery of a large, integrated system for compound storage and screening to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Program at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill.

The system, for the NIMH Psychoactive Drug Screening Program, was delivered to the UNC Department of Pharmacology and the Division of Medicinal Chemistry. This is the first installed system of its kind, providing seamless integration of -20˚C compound library storage with an automated liquid handling platform for screening assays.

The system integrates a Hamilton ASM sample management system with two MICROLAB® STAR liquid handling workstations, one with a 96-channel head and the other with 384 channels, using the Hamilton Rack Runner robot for tube transfer. The new system can store up to 100,000 compounds in 0.5 ml screw cap microtubes. Hamilton delivered the system within three months of the order, and a factory acceptance was successfully completed immediately prior to delivery.

The NIMH program at UNC is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and provides screening services to academic investigators, focusing on central nervous system receptors. Bryan L. Roth, M.D., Ph.D., Distinguished Professor, is the principal investigator for the program, which screens novel compounds for pharmacological and functional activity/selectivity at cloned human CNS receptors, channels and transporters.

“Many investigators send us their compounds for screening, often one or two at a time,” explained Jon Evans, M.S., M.B.A., project manager at UNC. “It’s especially important to us that the Hamilton system can locate and pick individual vials or tubes and deliver them to the liquid handler for the automated assays.

“This new integrated system will significantly increase the throughput, capacity and accuracy of our lab,” continued Evans. “It will allow us to do different kinds of assays and will provide complete chain of custody documentation.”

“The NIMH-funded screening center at UNC will be able to reduce assay time requirements by as much as 75 percent and to run assays unattended,” commented Matt Hamilton, vice president for Hamilton Storage Technologies. “This installation is a perfect example of how we can bring our liquid handling workstations and automated storage systems together and integrate them seamlessly.”

The NIMH Psychoactive Drug Screening Program at UNC has previously discovered the mechanism of action of the hallucinogen Salvia divinorum as well as how the diet drug fenfluramine induces valvular heart disease.