Removing a pain point

MUSA and Molecular Devices team up, seeking to complement SoftMax Pro functionality with LabSpeed LS

Jeffrey Bouley
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CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—Seeking to save researchers time andimprove accuracy, MUSA Technology Partners and Molecular Devices recentlyannounced that they have partnered to integrate LabSpeed for Life Sciences(LabSpeed LS)—for which MUSA is the exclusive distributor—into the SoftMax Prosuite of analytical instruments and software from Molecular Devices.
Among other things, the deal will make LabSpeed LS, amodular analytical software package for data management, integration andconsolidation of laboratory instrumentation outputs, available to thecompanies' mutual clients.
The partnership brings together not simply the productsthemselves, the companies say, but more generally, MUSA's talents as a providerof information technology products and consulting services to life science andMolecular Devices' skills in bioanalytical systems for drug discovery, lifesciences research and bioassay/test development.
"Multi-assay trending and control charting, along withreal-time thresholding with pass/fail criteria, are just two of the manyfeatures inherent in LabSpeed LS that our clients will find invaluable andallow them to further enable life sciences discovery," explained Cathy Maloney,senior director of sales at Molecular Devices, in an official statement."Factor in the automated data transfer and data management features, which havebeen professionally engineered and optimized using predefined SoftMax Protemplates, and our solution becomes a value-added option which, by eliminatingthe need to import data into spreadsheet software, will save our clients valuabletime, reduce duplication of effort and decrease errors."
Working with data is a constant challenge for researchers,notes George Wilgram, LabSpeed LS product manager for MUSA Technology Partners,because for every instrument in the lab, there is often a proprietary datatype. Data standards and integration, therefore, figure prominently onresearchers' wish lists.
"All this sophisticated science and then hours are spentmaking spreadsheets, and then cutting and pasting and producing a PDF orPowerPoint presentation for management. All of that is very manual, intensiveand time-inefficient, and so this is a big pain point for researchers," Wilgramtells ddn. "You might want to do a lotof assays and you want to do things like trending and looking for variability—anomaliesand deviations—without having to do a bunch of manual calculations and havingto build huge, awkward spreadsheets. It's not an efficient use of your time andbesides, every time you transcribe or copy data, that increases the chances of errorsand decreases accuracy."
With the integration, SoftMax Pro reads the data off of theinstrument and provides industry-recognized analytics while LabSpeed LSpopulates and displays the data in control and trending charts that are simpleto interpret and use, Wilgram explains. In general, he adds, the software hasbeen built with ease of implementation, use and maintenance in mind. For largerdeployments, particularly integration with enterprise systems such as LIMS,customers can tap professional services for implementation and training throughthe companies, MUSA in particular. 
Interestingly, MUSA secured its exclusive distributionstatus at about the same time in October as it secured the deal with MolecularDevices. On Oct. 3, MUSA announced it finalized its partnership with ToposTechnologies, a software development company that focuses on meeting the datamanagement challenges in analytical laboratory environments, to make MUSA theexclusive distributor for the life sciences version of LabSpeed.
That deal comes from a similar line of thinking as the onewith Molecular Devices, Wilgram says, because the goal is to reduce pain pointsfor life sciences researchers.
"That's why we partnered with Topos Technologies, thedevelopers of LabSpeed LS, to bring a specialized version of this software tothe Life Sciences industry," he relates. "LabSpeed LS has already advanced thepurpose of increasing the level of automation in data handling, acquisition,manipulation and output, saving scientists hours each week and increasing theiraccuracy."
"I knew this would be of interest to Molecular Devicesbecause I work with them a lot, and they hear from their customers that theywould like to do things like trend, control and threshold charting andautomated data integration, and it would make our software that much moreattractive to customers and add value to both companies' offerings," he adds."Both of us are excited to give this kind of tool to scientists and to maketheir work more efficient and synergistic. This is an area where pharma andbiotech lag behind a lot of other industries. People want standardization andwant to be able to more easily work with all these file formats."
Wilgram says it's also on MUSA's "immediate roadmap" to addauditing and security—for example, 21 CFR Part 11 compliance to LabSpeed LS—andto follow thereafter with a full validation package for quality control andmanufacturing environments.

Jeffrey Bouley

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