State-of-the-art Robotic Research

Changing the face of traditional laboratory research

A new game-changing, state-of-the-art robot in the Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer (FCIC) may one day lead to personalised treatments for cancer and other chronic diseases.

As the robotic arm moves forward and back, smoothly and rhythmically, thousands of experiments are being conducted at a time – effectively changing the face of traditional laboratory research. The ultimate aim? To find personalised ‘tailor made’ treatments for cancer and other chronic disease states.

According to Cell Screen SA (CeSSA) Laboratory Manager, Dr Amanda Aloia, the aim is not far-fetched and FCIC scientists are working towards it day-by-day. “In a typical laboratory, scientists develop models of a human disease state to enable them to investigate how the disease might be treated and what causes the disease,” Dr Aloia said.

“For example, a cell may change shape as it becomes cancerous, or a neuron may make more of a particular protein when in a situation experienced as pain,” said Dr Aloia.

In a traditional laboratory setting, these questions can generally only be answered on a small scale as everything needs to be done by hand. However, the new CeSSA facility enables researchers to do their experiments in very high numbers – up to 10,000s of different treatments concurrently, as robotics are used to set up and analyse the experiments. This means experiments that used to take months, can now be done in weeks, or less – giving researchers the potential to find solutions faster, and target solutions more effectively.

“One of the ultimate aims for CeSSA is to be involved in personalised medicine approaches, in which treatments are tested on individual patient samples in order to find the most effective treatment,” Dr Aloia said.

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