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Olden Labs Launches the World’s First Automated Animal Research Lab

Smart cage placed in the rack.
Credit: Olden Labs
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Olden Labs emerges from stealth to unveil a new approach to animal research. By harnessing artificial intelligence (AI), genetic engineering and robotics, Olden Labs is building the world’s first automated animal research lab.

Olden Labs was founded by a multidisciplinary team of experts including a Harvard PhD biologist, a Forbes 30 Under 30 AI developer and two engineers from 10X Genomics and Apple, and is backed by CHMBR Partners, Healthspan Capital, and the Mercatus Center’s Emergent Ventures.

“Animal research is critical for the development of therapies but has not received much attention or innovation from the scientific community,” says Michael Florea, PhD, Olden Labs co-founder and CEO. “Many of the methods in use date back to the 1960s. While biologists can routinely get terabytes of digital data in genomics, imaging, and other fields, animal studies are conducted by hand and results stored on paper. It was clear that bridging this technology gap would have a profound impact on society.”

The launch of Olden comes at a time when more than $36B dollars is spent annually on animal studies, yet 90.4% of new drugs fail in human clinical trials This is partly because in contrast to the rest of biology, where automated and data-rich methods are standard, animal research is still performed manually, leading to high costs, poor reproducibility, and poor data quality.

To enable automated animal studies, Olden Labs has developed three first-in-class technologies in robotics, AI and gene delivery. Olden Labs' first product, DOME smart cages use AI to analyze health of multiple experimental animals in their home environment, giving a complete and high-definition picture of their activity and behavior. This fundamental new capacity allows researchers to access a slice of the animal’s “phenome”, by continuously and automatically measuring many parameters of health.

“Labs in the United States use 111 million rodents per year,” says Charles Hirschler, Managing Member of Olden Labs’ lead Seed investor CHMBR Partners, L.P. “Their upkeep costs $16+ billion. I have experienced the challenges Olden Labs addresses firsthand as well as the opportunities that innovations in AI, robotics, and data acquisition offer. Between the large and intense unmet need for animal lab methods and the tailwind of rapidly advancing automation, AI, and robotics, Olden Labs offers a great opportunity. CHMBR is delighted to be part of it.”

The logistical challenges and high costs associated with traditional animal studies can be prohibitive. By combining AI with other advanced technologies, Olden Labs is improving the success rate of animal research and lowering the cost of clinical translation.