Emerald Opens Cloud Lab Facility

March 25, 2015

By Bio-IT World Staff 

March 25, 2015 | Emerald Therapeutics is opening its first Emerald Cloud Lab (ECL) production facility, ECL-1, in the biotech corridor of South San Francisco. 

The robotics life sciences laboratory was announced last year, though plans were already underway for a move to South San Francisco. Since then, the company built a new production facility from the ground up and installed over $3 million of scientific instrumentation including liquid handlers, mass spectrometers, HPLCs (high pressure liquid chromatography), flow cytometers, DNA synthesizers, epifluorescence microscopes, plate readers, lyophilizers and a few dozen others.

The Emerald Cloud Lab facility lets scientists remotely access the lab via the Internet and instruct robotics to conduct experiments exactly as specified by the user. The company has achieved “push button reproducibility, computation closure around your protocol.” Brian Frezza, Emerald’s Co-Founder and Co-CEO, explained in an interview with Bio-IT World last year. “Everything, even number of seconds between pipetting, is exactly the same.” A lab technician simply loads reagents into the instruments and presses go. “The robots take care of it.”

In a press release today, D.J. Kleinbaum, Emerald’s other co-founder and co-CEO, said that the ECL, “allows scientists to abstract away the manual labor currently inherent in scientific research. Scientists are able to design and drive their experiments as if they were standing in front of the instrument themselves, giving them full control over the process without the grunt work and friction usually associated with research.”

The ECL offers over forty different experiment types that its beta users can be running in under 48 hours. Over the next eighteen months, Emerald will be expanding the number of experiments to over 100, enabling scientists to do any standard in vitro life sciences experiment on the ECL, including Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR), gas chromatography, flow chemistry, and DNA sequencing.

Now the company will start taking a limited number of users off its waitlist of over 300 scientists and labs that signed up after the 2014 unveiling, including scientists from Big Pharma, top universities, and biotech start-up companies. Customers will get access to both the experimental capabilities of the system and to its full suite of data visualization, analysis, and sharing tools.

Ethan Oren Perlstein, PhD, founder and CEO of Perlstein Lab, has been using the ECL to research orphan drug treatments.

“Our biggest expense in 2014 was equipment, the next biggest slice was payroll and that’s the reality for any biotech start-up,” said Perlstein in a statement. “With the ECL, we can extend the work we do at our lab without the added equipment and staff. Emerald has developed a model that can have a huge impact on biotech research.”