Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, drug developers and other life-science researchers were concerned with improving their collaboration and data sharing, especially challenging with laboratories frequently separated by national boundaries and thousands of miles. To that end, ACD/Labs has upgraded two of its laboratory solutions to help overcome some of those challenges.
Outsourcing-Pharma (OSP) recently spoke with Karim Kassam (KK), senior director of customer success at ACD/Labs, about the platforms, and the challenges of working across geographical distances and disciplines in the current environment.
OSP: Could you please tell us a bit about the Spectus platform—key capabilities, what users it’s targeted to, and what sets it apart from the competition?
KK: The ACD/Labs Spectrus platform has built on more than 20 years of expertise and experience in providing software for analytical data handling for R&D. The key differentiator for Spectrus over instrument vendor software and other third-party data processing and analysis applications is that it is vendor agnostic and allows handling of multiple techniques.
Spectrus enables scientists to bring analytical data from various techniques (chromatography, LC/MS, GC/MS, NMR, TGA, DSC, and more) into a single informatics environment. With the large variety of analytical instrument vendors—Waters, Agilent, Bruker, Thermo Fisher, BioRad to name but a few—come many software interfaces, and even more data formats.
Through long-standing partnerships with most major instrument vendors Spectrus is able to handle more than 150 instrument data formats simplifying and standardizing analytical data processing. Also, since material identification and characterization often require answers from different types of data, Spectrus provides easy data assembly and comparison for fast and confident decisions.
Chemical intelligence built into the Spectrus platform enable the chemical context of experiments to be stored along with the results for meaningful knowledge sharing and more effective scientific collaboration.
The portfolio of applications on the Spectrus platform are important to a variety of users involved in R&D. For scientists working in the lab, Spectrus applications provide a single software interface for experimental analytical data processing away from the instrument, effective analysis (with tools to support structure verification, method development and optimization, and deformulation), and the ability to annotate spectra with comments and/or structure assignments and include notes for context; this is useful for knowledge sharing not only within an organization but particularly between partner organizations (CxOs and sponsors) where analytical knowledge sharing is typically limited to tables of textual data and PDF reports.
Beyond the lab Spectrus provides team leads and managers searchable access to project data including the risk mitigating proof (which analytical data often proves to be) in real-time. This assembled, contextual data is also an important resource for those that file responses and documents to regulatory authorities, both in product development, and subsequent manufacturing. Finally, the standardized, homogenous analytical data in Spectrus is ideal for extracting insights through data science.
OSP: What about the Percepta platform?
KK: The Percepta platform is a result of over 40 years of collective research and development in molecular property prediction from structure. Percepta offers highly accurate Physicochemical, ADME, and Toxicological endpoint predictions, many of which can be further enriched with in-house experimental data to expand applicability to novel chemical space and improve prediction accuracy.
Predictions from the Percepta platform are used in discovery to help scientists understand in-vivo and environmental behavior and impact. They are also used to narrow the field of experimentation in metabolite identification and chromatographic method development, for example.
OSP: Could you please provide some perspective on how the changes in version 2020 of the software are helping users adjust to conducting their projects during the pandemic—working remotely, sharing data between separated locations, etc.?
KK: Remote access to data and knowledge sharing have always been an important part of ACD/Labs’ offering to our customers. Every version release of Spectrus involves expansion and/or refinement of existing data format support to ensure that our users can access data generated by analytical instruments remotely; this was also the case with the v2020 release of the software. Development of databasing capabilities focused on improvements in data visualization—so that data is organized in a meaningful way for a variety of users who may access the same database with different questions in mind.
R&D is full of multi-disciplinary teams that are looking for different answers from the same piece of data. At a time when face-to-face interactions are being minimized in the interests of employee safety Spectrus offers a real time access to data that facilitates data exchange without reliance on email and reports.
Finally, since colleagues or CxO partners can be located in different geographical regions v2020 of Spectrus saw the introduction of capabilities to enhance the speed of data sharing.