It takes at least ten years for a new drug to reach the market, and only clinical trials take up to seven years. But drug developers, especially those developing vaccines, have had to work much faster lately. Can the industry maintain this momentum and develop pharmaceutical products faster? Here, Dave Walsha, Sales Manager at precision drive the systems supplier, Electrical Mechanical Systems (EMS), is investigating how micromotors help detect drugs.
The tasks of analytical devices and machines used in laboratories are becoming more complex and these devices require a system that allows very precise actions.
Micromotors, as the name suggests, are motors designed for the smallest applications. But their size does not determine productivity. Instead, these engines are extremely fast, precise and powerful, making them an ideal choice for drug detection applications.
Small engines, big impact
In a study of 70 organizations in the NHS and Clinical Start-up Groups (CCGs), BT found that 90 percent accelerated digital transformation plans, encouraged by the demand for remote services, growing patient expectations and the pressure of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The digital transformation in the medical industry ranges from digitalized patient services and medical software to medicine that contains sensors and robots used in laboratories.
Robots have been used in the medical field since 1985, when the Puma 560 was developed by the first robotics company, Unimation, to perform a brain biopsy. It is designed to combat the risk of hand-shaking error when inserting the needle. However, the industry did not fully accept robots in regular practice until the 1990s.
Today’s robots can be used elsewhere, in delicate processes such as drug development. In particular, robots are used to automate and speed up processes, including drug screening, anti-counterfeiting and manufacturing tasks. But to allow this, these robots must be powered by high-performance and precise engines.
Where else can micromotors be used to stimulate drug development?
Immunoassay is a test that relies on biochemistry to measure the presence and concentration of an analyte. These can be large proteins, antibodies that a person has produced due to an infection, or small molecules.
These sensitive assays are used in the preclinical and clinical stages of drug development, where they can assess biomarkers of drug response, immunotherapy success, and toxicity. Immunoassays automatically and quickly perform parallel tests on multiple samples, saving vital time and allowing high-performance sample screening – an ability that is invaluable to drug scientists.
Immunoassay tests are often performed by immunoassay, a compact device with an embedded computer. To ensure the speed and reliability of the test, the analyzer must be powered by motors such as brushless DC servomotors. These engines are designed for extreme, repetitive operating conditions, as they are precise and have a long life cycle.
Supportive cell culture
Cell culture, also known as cell analysis, is one of the most valuable testing methods in medical practice and helps to safely place drugs on the market. Cell culture is the process of growing cells from human tissue in an incubator to provide enough material for drug testing. Cells are grown in tissue culture flasks in an environment containing cellular nutrients and growth factors.
This activity is performed in the last phase of drug development – the phase of clinical trials. Cell culture serves as a substitute for safe drug testing. For example, it determines at what dose the desired result is achieved without side effects and to what extent the drug becomes toxic.
Cell culture testing is time consuming and repetitive work that requires great precision of technique to ensure that there is no contamination that can be harmful to the cultures. Instead, automated test systems are becoming increasingly popular for saving time and improving accuracy and quality.
EMS is the only supplier in the UK of FAULHABER engines, which provide a superb combination of high-performance, precise and low-weight engines, ideal for use in medical and laboratory equipment. In fact, its motors are used to power the CYRIS®FLOX automated test system, designed by the German biotechnology company INCYTON.
In combination with integrated motion controller, six brushless DC servomotors are built into the device, each of which serves a different purpose. Three move the pipetting head in the robot’s hand along three axes. A fourth engine drives 24 suction pistons, which transport the nutrient medium into sterile pipette tips.
The last two motors move the microscope on XY mass under the cell samples. In this application, the engines ensure that the crops are supplied with nutrients and medicines during the testing and the development of the cells is closely monitored. What else, The small and precise characteristics of FAULHABER motors guarantee precision and reliability in this continuous operation.
Although it takes about a decade for new drugs to reach the market, we have seen that the medical industry can be more flexible when needed. With powerful and precise micromotors, automated immunoassays can provide high-performance screening, and automated cell culture testing systems can determine if a product is safe, helping to launch drugs faster.
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