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Journal of Automated Methods and Management in Chemistry
Volume 22, Issue 6, Pages 175-179

The planning and establishment of a sample preparation laboratory for drug discovery

Natural Products Drug Discovery, Automation & Informatics Group, Merck Research Laboratories, R80Y-340, 126 E. Lincoln Ave, Rahway 07065, NJ, USA

Copyright © 2000 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Nature has always been a productive source of new drugs. With the advent of high-throughput screening, it has now become possible to rapidly screen large sample collections. In addition to seeking greater diversity from natural product sources (micro-organisms, plants, etc.), fractionation of the crude extracts prior to screening is becoming a more important part of our efforts. As sample preparation protocols become more involved, automation can help to achieve and maintain a desired sample throughput. To address the needs of our screening program, two robotic systems were designed. The first system processes crude extracts all the way to 96-well plates, containing solutions suitable for screening in biological and biochemical assays. The system can dissolve crude extracts, fractionate them on solid-phase extraction cartridges, dry and weigh each fraction, re-dissolve them to a known concentration, and prepare mother plates. The second system replicates mother plates into a number of daughter plates.