A Custom Application to Transform the Biological Testing Process
A case study for coolblueweb
Industry: Medical Research
Location: Seattle, WA
Fluidigm is an analytical company that markets and sells breakthrough technology for research and drug discovery. They develop instrumentation, materials (reagents) and consumables for the purpose of biological research. Fluidigm is responsible for the development, manufacturing and marketing of the CyTOP, an instrument that allows users to test for changes on the cellular level.
• Applies probes to cell
• Takes heavy metals and attaches to probe kit to test for proteins
• Tests for multiple markers simultaneously (up to 35)
When testing, researchers create panels with multiple reagents on them. Typically, a certain amount of spillage (or overlap) occurs within the panel, lowering the accuracy of any test’s results. Fluidigm knew that they could figure out a complex algorithm to predict the amount of spillage in any section, but they didn’t have an intuitive way to get that information to researchers. Instead, researchers were forced to use guesswork and spend large amounts of time experimenting with different combinations in order to figure out the most effective layout for maximum accuracy of their panels.
Beyond the Normal Scope
Fluidigm knew that they needed an interactive process to help researchers figure out the best way to arrange their panels in the CyTOP instrument. If they could create a custom web application, something that allowed them to graphically represent a good panel versus a bad panel, researchers would be able to utilize it for important decisions about their research (and the reagents needed for a successful testing) before ever approaching the CyTOP instrument with their panels.
Unfortunately, the system they needed was so advanced that it was beyond the capabilities of their in-house developer. When Fluidigm approached other developers, they found that the complexities of the biological research field created a barrier, preventing others from understanding, let alone fulfilling their needs.
“I sat down with Bryan and Jonathan, we went through it and they were able to understand the concept pretty quickly. It was harder to convey the idea or get confident that the other firms understood enough about our technology at the offset. I felt more comfortable that coolblueweb understood what the project was and what our technology needed out of the project.”
Upon approaching coolblueweb, Fluidigm was relieved to discover that members of the development team had enough working knowledge of biology, mathematics and number theory to envision what the custom application might look like. Coolblueweb also had the experience necessary to build a complex application from scratch, making sure that it ran smoothly and efficiently.
Through a series of discussions, a Panel Master interface was decided upon that would allow researchers to utilize both a wheel and grid view to display tactics and findings.
Strategies for Success
The development process for Fluidigm’s custom application required open channels for communication, as well as plenty of face-to-face time. Coolblueweb took lots of time for methodical research, making sure they understood the microbiological applications of the CyTOP instrument. Not only would they be creating an interactive website, but a unique, advanced configuration tool where accuracy was of the highest priority. To ensure that everything operated correctly, coolblueweb enacted a review process to help pinpoint the exact steps necessary for success.
Complex Operations Made Simple
The main challenge of the project was to take an operation that was deeply complicated and present it in an easy-to-use manner. Coolblueweb built the Panel Manager with an eye to simplifying the challenge without losing any of the functionality or accuracy that the project required.
With the assistance of the Panel Manager, a process that once took people hours and hours to complete can now be finished in significantly less time. The Panel Manager also operates very quickly, greatly increasing efficiency for medical research groups.
The completed application is now live for use by distributors and will released to customers soon. Not only is it a tremendous tool for the scientific community, but the Fluidigm marketing team is also very pleased with its potential as a sales tool. The Panel Manager helps them demonstrate the capabilities of the CyTOP instrument, which makes it simpler for them to market the instrument to universities and pharmaceutical companies.
Prior to the development of the Panel Manager, there was no way to manually design a panel to optimum efficiency. A lot of guesswork was involved and testing results were not precise. Now, with the assistance of this custom application, users’ experiments have the best chance of success. Fluidigm anticipates that, with the help of the Panel Manager, they will see an increased rate of publication amongst their customers.
Exceptional Development and More
Creating the Panel Manager for Fluidigm was a complex and intensive process. In order to succeed, coolblueweb brought the full talents of their development team to the table. It took a combination of biological understanding, mathematical knowledge, custom development experience, and excellent customer service to deliver an application that revolutionizes the way medical research is performed.
“Kellen’s awesome! I think it’s been a great project to work with coolblueweb on and I’m looking forward to the continued evolution of the site as we take feedback. It’s a joy to work with coolblueweb.”