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Next-generation informatics help scientists discover better drugs faster

Sharing data quickly and efficiently is vital for drug discovery and development.Credit: naqiewei/Getty Images

One of the big challenges for scientists is figuring out how to effectively store, analyze, and share their data. These challenges can be especially pressing for researchers in biotech and pharmaceutical companies who are developing life-saving drugs and therapies. Signals, a data management and analysis platform developed by PerkinElmer Informatics Inc., allows researchers across the world to immediately share vast amounts of organized data. Christof Gaenzler, explains how the platform has contributed to the development of treatments, including vaccines.

Why is data management a challenge in drug development?

There are specialists in every scientific discipline, and they all have their own expertise areas and ‘worlds’ they live in. But, when it comes to drug discovery, researchers need readily accessible and understandable data to make faster and more well-informed decisions before bringing therapeutics to clinical trials. With the health of patients on the line, the old ways of data silos and non-real time data access no longer work. Scientists performing different aspects of research simultaneously need to be able to interact in parallel, and in real time, with their data at their fingertips.

How does your software platform help?

We believe our Signals™ Notebook electronic lab notebook is the most comprehensive data management and analytics offering available for the life sciences. Coupled with Signals Screening in our BioELN solution, scientists can access, combine, manage, share, and analyze data from in vitro assays as well as in vivo studies. For each test or assay, scientists are actually teaching the platform how the data needs to be recorded and analyzed. From that point on, everyone who does a particular test runs through the same process of entering and analyzing data. Scientists also provide metadata on who did the test and when, what instruments were used, which project it involves, and other variables. Then whenever anyone enters data into the platform, the data is sorted into a project, merged, and shared with collaborators. This breaks down data silos.

Who uses the Signals platform?

Everyone from scientists in academic labs, to researchers from biotech startups, to pharmaceutical companies. We are helping scientists analyze larger and larger amounts of data more effectively. For example, we have customers that need to process terabytes of microscopic pictures every day. The better and more intuitively that data is organized and presented, the easier it is for them to make progress.

What impact has this platform had on drug discovery?

Improved collaboration and information sharing between scientists has always been at the heart of some of the most exciting drug discoveries made –look at what has happened in less than two years with COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics. One way our platform has helped people bring better drugs to market is by allowing researchers at pharma companies to fail much faster than they did in the past. We help them get to useful data earlier so they can get on to a more fruitful track. Drug discovery starts with millions of chemical compounds, and you want to narrow this list down to only a handful most promising candidates in the fastest way possible. Our Signals solutions are extremely effective at helping find those promising leads because all the data is immediately available in one place. The popular phrase in the informatics market is ‘data-driven decisions’. We help our customers achieve those faster and more easily.

Learn more about PerkinElmer’s Signals platform at


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