LabKey Biologics Case Study
Just Biotherapeutics, Inc.
Seattle-based biotech, Just Biotherapeutics, Inc. (Just), was founded with a distinct mission: to design and apply innovative technologies to dramatically expand global access to biotherapeutics. From inception in 2014, Just has been focused on building an integrated research environment which would overcome or completely eliminate the data silos and workflow bottlenecks found in a traditional research environment to accelerate biotherapeutic R&D.
To deliver on their mission, Just needed a data management solution that would help simplify and streamline their research operations while still ensuring the security of their data. The system would serve as a “single source of truth” for the data generated at all stages of the R&D process, allowing teams to register entities, derive samples, and track sample lineage in a single system.
Because this one system would support teams with varying goals and workflows, the solution needed to be incredibly flexible and customizable. Just’s commitment to innovation and pursuit of an ever more efficient research environment also meant that this software solution would need to be able to rapidly adapt to support changing workflows as Just refined their research processes for maximum efficiency.
During its evaluation of systems available on the market, Just discovered that none of the existing solutions for this type of biologics data and workflow management provided all of the functionality necessary to support their work. Systems that came close to meeting Just’s needs either lacked flexibility for evolving requirements or were cost prohibitive.
Accordingly, Just sought a software partner to help develop a suitable solution and soon discovered LabKey, a fellow Seattle-based company. LabKey’s open source platform provided a trusted, biology-centric foundation for developing a biologics solution with core features that would deliver 80% of the functionality required by Just with some slight modifications. LabKey Server’s flexible architecture and transparent code would support the need for extension and ongoing customization of the solution, and LabKey’s professional development team coupled with Just’s expertise would transform this foundation into a powerful tool for end-to-end biologics research and development.
Through the partnership of LabKey and Just, LabKey Biologics was developed. A flexible software product built on the LabKey Server foundation, LabKey Biologics provides both the functionality needed to support research processes and the flexibility needed for ongoing evolution.
Core components of the product include:
Entity registration in LabKey Biologics allows the Just team to uniquely track any type of (physical or virtual) biological entity, thus reducing the duplication of research efforts and ensuring a single authoritative record for each entity. These include sequences, cell lines, plasmids, and any other needed molecular biology building blocks. The system’s understanding of relationships between or among entities also instantly builds connections between related entities for easy navigation and comparison.
Just uses LabKey Biologics to track the lineage of all samples. The application allows them to track the history of a sample through further derivations and also track the physical location of every plate and sample in their lab.
Data generated through laboratory analysis at Just is captured in LabKey Biologics and linked directly to a specific sample within LabKey Biologics. This linkage provides context for each experiment result by displaying the sample’s lineage back to constituent sequences, cell lines, etc.
Just uses the LabKey Biologics media registration tools to increase the efficiency and consistency of media creation through the use of recipe templates. Registering media batches in LabKey Biologics also builds an automatic linkage to related samples and the results of assays run against them to help the Just team understand the potential impact of differing media.
Just centralizes all requests for sample creation and analysis in LabKey Biologics. The workflow system allows team members a consistent method for submitting requests and tracking their progress and provides team members executing requests to effectively manage their workloads and deliver requested data. The LabKey Biologics workflow management tools also provide managers with a global view of request volume, team member workload, and other key metrics to help them monitor progress and identify potential inefficiencies.
With their implementation of LabKey Biologics, Just has enhanced the accessibility of research data for team members across the organization. Researchers are able to self-serve data (as their permissions allow), minimizing request cycles and freeing up time for experimentation and analysis.
Central registration and tracking of entities in LabKey Biologics has also greatly increased the consistency and quality of data being generated. Consistent naming structures for samples and molecular entities help increase their discoverability and provide valuable context to other Just team members.
Finally, consistent and centralized processes have greatly enhanced the team’s efficiency and increased their capacity. Through automation and centralized process management, the Just team has been able to significantly increase the number of samples passaged in their lab.
Each of these gains in visibility, quality, and capacity is helping to enhance the Just research environment and accelerating their progress towards their goal of making biotherapeutic treatments accessible to all.
“The comprehensive utilization of LabKey Biologics at Just Biotherapeutics has allowed our scientists to have a consistent system to store and retrieve entities and data, enabling increased capacity. The LabKey system has also enabled our own development efforts to extend LabKey functionality for our own applications, allowing us to quickly and flexibly adapt our internal processes.”
Randal Ketchem, Ph.D., Vice President of Molecular Design, Just Biotherapeutics, Inc.
Just and LabKey continue to collaborate with an ongoing focus on process optimization relevant to biotherapeutic research. Just is a member of the Product Advisory Council (PAC) that serves as a key advisor as LabKey continues to develop and expand LabKey Biologics. The PAC meets with LabKey on a monthly basis to give feedback on plans and design for LabKey Biologics. In 2018, LabKey plans to extend functionality within LabKey Biologics, particularly with an eye towards developing a framework for experiments and expanding reporting capabilities.