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Automata partners with NHS trust for robotic cancer testing

Automata NHS
Image credit: Automata

Lab automation startup Automata has entered a partnership with an NHS trust to use robots to increase cancer testing by around 2,000 samples per month.

The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, based in London, will install six of Automata’s robots and 20 automated lab benches to double its genomic testing capacity.

The trust said it’s the UK’s first fully automated system for clinical cancer genomic testing.

Automata’s first product was a robotic arm called EVA and it has now shifted its attention over to its automated lab bench.

“Once opened, the facility will enable us to analyse the genetic make-up of more cancers than ever before, helping us to target cancer treatments and identity those at higher risk of the disease,” said Professor Michael Hubank, scientific director of clinical genomics at the trust.

The partnership will see the NHS trust create customised treatments with the support of robots using next-generation sequencing, and introduce new types of testing.

Hubank added: “Genomic testing is currently labour intensive and involves repetitive tasks, so fully automating the process will give our scientists and technicians more time to focus on quality and on the scientific aspects of their important work.”

The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust’s Automata will be operational from next year at the NIHR Centre for Molecular Pathology.

It comes after Octopus Ventures led a $50m (£37m) Series B into Automata last year.

“The insights and information that genomics testing provides, empower doctors and patients to make the right decisions for therapy,” said Neal Parker, ​strategic account director of Automata.

“As well as the increased capacity, scientists in the laboratory now have more walk-away time to spend on analysis and research.”

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