Research Stories

Measuring the economic efficiency in Biotechnology

Experiment Price Index, a contribution to laboratory automation for biotechnology

Food Science and Biotechnology

  • Measuring the economic efficiency in Biotechnology
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Prof. Woo Han Min, a professor in the Department of Food and Life Science at Sungkyunkwan University, has pioneered the development of an Experiment Price Index (EPI) that quantifies the economic efficiency of the biofoundry technology based on laboratory automation, which is a core manufacturing technique in synthetic biology. This groundbreaking index is the first of its kind globally.

The biofoundry technology, akin to custom semiconductor production systems, allows for the design and automation of biological systems. It enables the rapid development of synthetic biology components and cell factories. The Experiment Price Index (EPI) considers research material costs, labor expenses, and the time required for experiments per sample, expressed as the geometric mean. Lower EPI values indicate greater efficiency.

Prof. Woo Han Min’s work in quantifying the efficiency of biofoundry through the Experiment Price Index provides a foundation for economically designing and executing large-scale synthetic biology experiments using high-cost automated robots. According to experiments conducted at the Sungkyunkwan University biofoundry Research Center, when comparing 625 synthetic biology experiments (such as gene assembly) performed by human researchers and biofoundry research robots, the latter exhibited approximately twice the efficiency per sample compared to human researchers. Notably, biofoundry research robots reduced experiment time by more than three fold, ultimately demonstrating the capability equivalent to three or more human researchers.

This achievement is expected to contribute to the economical establishment of biofoundry infrastructure, especially as biofoundry facilities continue to advance, leading to even higher efficiency Experiment Price Index values. Prof. Woo Han Min envisions that this index will play a crucial role in commercializing synthetic biology-based products by allowing cost-effective planning and execution of large-scale experiments. The research results were published in the online edition of Trends in Biotechnology, a prestigious journal in the field of biotechnology.

※ Journal: Trends in Biotechnology(2024), Impact factor 17.3 (2022), JCR(Journal Citation Reports) Top 1.6% Journals in the Fields of Biotechnology and Applied Microbiolgy

※ Title: Measuring the economic efficiency of laboratory automation in biotechnology

※ DOI: 10.1016/j.tibtech.2024.02.001

※ 제1저자 및 교신저자: Prof. Woo Han Min(SKKU Synthetic Biology, BioFoundry, Metabolic Engineering)

▲ Measuring the economic efficiency in biotechnology