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Customer conference maps future for LIMS

LabWare LIMS Version 6 and WebLIMS Version 3, both due for imminent release, were under discussion at The European LabWare Customer Education Conference, held on 18-23 May 2008 in Dusseldorf, Germany. The conference provided an arena for LIMS users within Europe to discuss shared issues, learn about developments within LabWare LIMS, and feedback to LabWare on any specific needs they have as a LIMS user.

John Perry, support director for LabWare Europe, expects LabWare to be busy over the coming months due to the breadth and range of both the new version and the WebLIMS platform. WebLIMS 3 is a zero footprint web client, in that there is no code downloaded through using it, and utilises Ajax to create a fast web application based on Version 6. The system is open source, using Java programming language, so customers are not restricted in their operating system.

LabWare reached a worldwide sales turnover exceeding $70m for 2007, out of which the European market saw a 33 per cent increase in sales compared with 2002's figures.

Vance Kershner, president and CEO of LabWare, stated that forensic and clinical market sectors, the latter covering hospitals, clinical trials, and drug discovery, are the two areas that LabWare will be focusing on in the future and which are predicted for growth. LabWare is continuing to develop the technology specific to these industries and Kershner suggests that while there is still work to be done on this, the additions made to LIMS to meet the demands of forensic and clinical application areas could also find uses in other industries. The more established areas, such as pharmaceutical and biotechnology, which is LabWare LIMS' largest market sector, followed by the chemical and petrochemical industries, will continue to be supported.

The forensic laboratories of the Comisaríc General de Policía Científica in Madrid are currently using a LabWare LIMS system to manage the flow of evidence and samples requiring analysis, which now exceeds 10,000 samples per year. David Alvarez Revenga of the Analytical Central Unit at the Comisaríc General de Policía Científica, speaking at the conference, noted that due to changes in Spanish law, which has led to an increase in the use and documentation of DNA evidence in case reports, the throughput of data has risen from 3,000 packages of evidence to greater than 10,000 in just two or three years. The implementation of a LIMS system has allowed the forensic laboratories to process the large amounts of data required to meet these demands.

Within the LIMS system, case histories are documented and crosschecked against similar cases that might hold some relevance to the current investigation. Software such as Genemapper, for analysing DNA data, and the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), a DNA database of offenders, are both integrated and can be accessed through LIMS.

Also organised were training workshops as well as 'birds of a feather' sessions, in which customers could discuss common areas of interest in the use and management of LIMS. LabWare holds five Customer Education Conferences each year in different regions around the globe, namely Asia Pacific, Europe, North America, Africa, and Middle East.

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