Any compounds you use during drug discovery and development have started their journey long before they ended up in your lab. They have been collected, stored, processed, and then finally delivered to your bench. The process of compound management is highly complex and requires input from a number of experts. Just one little hiccup can ruin an entire research project and cost time and money.
“Compound management involves organizing the long-term storage of compounds in a high-security area and delivering individual compounds or associated collections of compounds to project teams in a short timeframe,” explains Olivier Casamitjana, Senior Vice President and Global Head of Compound Management at Evotec. “By receiving and registering compounds from the outside and organizing the delivery of compounds in the right format, concentration, and volume, compound management can contribute to a project’s success.”
Inaccurate compound management can greatly impact research projects. Loss or destruction of samples, delays in study onset, and high costs are just a few consequences of bad compound management. Therefore, compounds have to be stored with great care at exactly the right temperature, the right humidity, and the right luminosity in secured locations. This requires a high level of expertise.
Building a unique global compound management network
Evotec has five compound management teams located in Europe and the US. Together, Evotec’s global compound management sites can store over 13M compounds at different temperatures, and process and deliver more than 45M compounds annually. The two main sites – one in Branford, Connecticut, USA and one in Toulouse, France – handle the majority of the compounds.
Evotec’s global compound management team prides itself on having a fast turnaround time while maintaining high quality, which is essential to reduce project timelines and allow their customers to stay ahead of the competition. For this purpose, they have robust processes in place.
“Whether you are managing one compound or millions, you still need high-level processes to protect and secure the compounds and manage the data associated with the compounds,” says Casamitjana. “The strength of compound management is based on robust technology, secure data management, a specific laboratory information management system (LIMS), high quality, and established processes.”
Making compound management a priority
Evotec uses a robust LIMS to track each operation step-by-step. Every single compound carries a unique, identifier barcode, which allows the compound management team to follow standard processes and deliver compounds to Evotec’s customers in a fast and qualitative manner. Compounds are stored at the right environmental conditions in restricted areas that can only be accessed by authorized people.
“For compound acquisition, we have an internal platform where we collect different catalogs of compound providers,” Casamitjana explains. “Based on our customers’ needs, we are able to use this platform and offer different solutions for the acquisition of new chemical matter or even to refill some depleted compounds.”
To stay at the top of its game, Evotec invests in state-of-the-art technologies and works tirelessly to maintain and regularly update all compound management tools. The team also has different processes in place to manage the large amounts of generated data and act in case of emergency. For example, one of the contingency plans ensures that there are always duplicates of different databases should one of them fail.
Supporting the global biotech and pharma community
With over 20 years of experience, Evotec’s global compound management teams are supporting a variety of customers ranging from big pharma to medium-sized biotech and academia. Examples include Sanofi, Belgium biopharmaceutical company UCB, and some US-based companies and non-profit organizations, such as the CHDI Foundation.
Big pharma companies prefer to collaborate to share the costs of large compound libraries. For small and medium-sized companies, on the other hand, compound management comes with numerous challenges, the greatest of which are storage capacity and expertise.
“These parameters are key drivers to start discussions with companies,” says Casamitjana. “For compound management, you need storage space, technologies, expertise, finances, and standardized processes. All of these are resources that many companies don’t have. This is where many companies draw the conclusion to outsource their compound management to other companies like Evotec.”
The future of compound management
As drug discovery and development becomes more and more technology-driven, so does compound management. “We always need to look at the market and to follow new technology trends,” Casamitjana explains. “For example, we have started using the new acoustic tube technology from Labcyte, which does liquid transfers via acoustic waves that create a droplet at the liquid’s surface. Additionally, the technology allows you to manage each compound of your collection individually in a tube, which wasn’t possible in the past. The acoustic tube technology brings some additional flexibility into the selection and management of your compounds.”
In addition to following new technological developments, Evotec is also closely watching other trends on the market. While the previous focus was on small molecule compounds, there has now been a shift to biological compounds. Evotec’s compound management team therefore has to adjust its procedures because different compounds require different storage conditions, different delivery processes, and specific expertise.
“It is very important to follow the trends and to continuously adapt to our customers’ new needs,” says Casamitjana. “Our role is to make sure the right compound will be delivered at the right time, the right concentration, and the right place in order to secure the correct biological results. It is mandatory from our side to be right the first time to help our colleagues and customers, and to contribute to the success of their research projects.”
Header image via Shutterstock.com, other images via Evotec
Author: Larissa Warneck, Science Journalist at Labiotech.eu