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Robotics and AI require high quality water to run efficiently and produce reliable results.
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A Robot Is Only as Good as Its Tools

Using impure water can reduce the reproducibility of laboratory robots’ work during hit discovery

Photo portrait of Marnie Willman, BSc
Marnie Willman, BSc

Marnie Willman, BSc, is Today’s Clinical Lab’s creative services writer/editor. Marnie obtained her BSc from Vancouver Island University and is currently completing her PhD in medical microbiology and infectious diseases at the University of Manitoba. Her doctoral dissertation was focused on the discovery of novel therapeutics for influenza A virus, during which time she also worked as a freelance science writer. Her work has been published in Viruses, iScience, Journal of Virology, Massive Science, The Wire, ASBMB Today, Salon, and MyHealthTeams.

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Published:Jul 13, 2023
|1 min read

Robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) are on the rise in a wide range of industries—and laboratories working on drug discovery are no exception. However, as with any laboratory automation process, the concept of “garbage in, garbage out” holds true. If a robot is supplied with contaminated or impure water, its experiments are likely to yield skewed or incorrect results. These inaccuracies will also be inconsistent between experiments because contaminations may change from one lot of water to the next, further reducing overall reproducibility.

AI-assisted drug repurposing requires clean water

Using robotics and AI in your drug hit discovery is a great way to improve productivity, reduce costs, and work with pinpoint accuracy during drug hit discovery. One application of AI is to repurpose existing compounds for novel therapeutic uses. The results of assays aimed at novel therapeutic hit identification from existing pharmaceuticals can be read and interpreted by appropriately programmed AI software—but problems may arise if contaminated water gives the algorithm incorrect information.

Assay specificity demands pure water for accurate results 

The assays used for drug hit discovery have extremely high specificity. As a result, for AI software to use their results in hit detection, those results must be precise, accurate, and replicable. Unfortunately, many factors can influence the readouts, including the quality of your water. Using liquid handling robots to transfer compounds requires pure water to prevent contamination or misreads. Aqueous contaminants from bacteria to heavy metals can change readouts and interpretations, jeopardizing your drug hit discovery and subsequent experiments. Adding AI into the mix emphasizes the need for precision—and the risk of error when contaminated water enters the picture.


To find out more about how your drug discovery pipeline can be impacted by water quality, download this free infographic.