Science Pool

Sample Management – Key for Drug Discovery Success

The development of novel drugs is requiring much more than preclinical and clinical studies. Once scientists have identified a biological structure they want to block or to engage with, they begin screening for compounds that are able to fulfill this task. However, before they can even start this screening process, which can involve tens of thousands of compounds, these molecules have to be synthesized or extracted, purified, collected, stored, catalogued and tracked so that they can be made available to be processed.  

Compound management involves receiving and registering compounds from any external sources, organizing their long-term storage in a safe and controlled environment. For the acquisition of new molecules, Evotec has established a platform collecting and evaluating catalogs of compound providers. Compounds not yet available in Evotec’s collection can be sourced via this platform and added to the collection or made available to the customer as required. These compounds must be stored in a dedicated space under the right conditions in terms of temperature, humidity and other factors which could influence their stability. Access is restricted to authorized personnel to avoid accidental or deliberate manipulation of the samples. This requires a lot of logistics, regular controls, and supervision. 

To ensure high quality, safe, and speedy delivery of compounds, Evotec has established six compound management teams located in Europe and the US. Its main sites in Toulouse (France), and in Branford, (CT, USA), handle most of the samples received by Evotec, which include small molecules as well as biologicals. Overall, Evotec’s six compound management sites can store over 13 million compound containers under optimum conditions, and are able to process and deliver over 53 millions samples per year. The Company’s high quality compound storage and fast turnaround time, are based on robust automated technology, a highly sophisticated laboratory information management system (LIMS), and secure data management. All sites operate under quality management and internal auditing principles. The main sites  have developed a Business Continuity plan to ensure complete protection for our customers. Evotec is using Titian’s Mosaic software, the leading software solution for sample management, providing  for a full audit trail and complete sample life cycle tracking. Every single sample carries a unique identifier barcode and the LIMS system is able to track each operations across all sample management processes, ensuring refill of depleted substances are automatically enacted.  The system has in-built redundancy to protect the data against critical loss. 

Once ordered, delivery of individual compounds or compound collections to customers and partners are organised in a short time frame ensuring the right format, concentration, and volume of substances are prepared. Samples are being shipped all over the world. Evotec also takes care of choosing the right parcel services, as frozen or temperature-sensitive substances need to be shipped under specific controlled conditions to protect temperature shift. In addition,  Evotec’s dedicated logistic team has expertise in documentation requirements, tariff classification, and import/export customs requirements to ensure compounds shipped can travel through customs without delays linked to incomplete paperwork.  

Evotec is continuously investing in state-of-the-art technologies to keep its compound management tools up to date. As an example, it invested in acoustic sample management, where liquids are transferred via acoustic sound waves, creating a droplet at the liquid’s surface. This technology increases flexibility, throughput and reduces compound consumption. The Company has been building screening libraries since 2004 and is serving a broad variety of customers ranging from academia, non-profit organizations to medium-sized biotech and big pharma. Apart from ordering and receiving compounds, customers  are also able to enter collaborations in which Evotec stores and manages their proprietary compound libraries and collections. This enables large companies as well as fast-growing SMEs to save space and costs while gaining more flexibility.  

As a result, customers profit from Evotec’s expertise, state of the art investment with large storage capacity and capabilities, its experienced staff and the inbuilt security safeguarding quality and availability of valuable compounds. Thereby, Evotec’s compound libraries and management tools significantly contribute to the success of drug discovery research projects as well as to medicinal product development.