This robotic system can automate the production of human mini-organs derived from stem cells.
Wonder robots with their magical powers have already decked up our labs. While one has the ability to backflip, the other can be your wedding celebrity. This list is getting longer and longer every day and now scientists from the University of Washington have added a new feather to it. They have come up with a robotic system to automate the production of human mini-organs derived from stem cells.
All about robots growing mini organs
The researchers used a robotic system to automate the procedure for growing stem cells into organoids- mini organs. The stem cells are versatile and are capable of becoming any type of organ. The new liquid-handling robots introduced the stem cells into plates that contained as many as 384 miniature wells each and then coaxed them to turn into kidney organoids over 21 days. Each little microwell typically contained ten or more organoids and each plate contained thousands of organoids.
Scientists explained that just setting up an experiment of this magnitude would take a researcher’s entire day while these robots can do it in only 20 minutes. Moreover, the robots do not get tired and do not make mistakes. The researchers have also trained robots to process and analyze the organoids they produce.
In addition to that, the researchers used their technique to search for drugs that could affect disease. In one such experiment, they produced organoids with mutations that cause polycystic kidney disease- a common, inherited condition that often leads to kidney failure. In this disease, tiny tubes in the kidneys and other organs swell like balloons and form expanding cysts that crowd out the healthy tissue. In their experiment, the researchers exposed the polycystic kidney disease organoids to a number of substances.
They discovered that a factor called blebbistatin that blocks a protein called myosin, led to a significant increase in the number and size of cysts. Discoveries like this could aid in better understanding and treatment of many diseases.