Breakthrough Robot in Combating Covid-19 and Biotechnology

Breakthrough Robot in Combating Covid-19 and Biotechnology
Breakthrough Robot in Combating Covid-19 and Biotechnology

The AGAMEDE robotic system, developed at the Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences in collaboration with Mitsubishi Electric, Labomatica and Perlan Technologies, accelerates the diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2. Thanks to advanced automation technology equipped with artificial intelligence, the system has the capacity to test 15 thousand samples per day. Technology; It could also be used in other application areas such as new drug research, personalized cancer treatments and even the development of cosmetic formulas.

Considered the first woman scientist in history, AGAMEDE was the inspiration for the name given to the laboratory automation system developed at the Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences. While automation of laboratory processes is common practice, the AGAMEDE robotic system has begun to offer a unique closed-loop experiment environment by combining automation and artificial intelligence (AI). The robots preparing the experiments read the results at certain times with the Labomatica Gene GameTM software, on the other hand, interpret the data and independently prepare the next experiment cycle. Thus, researchers are left with only the task of defining the question, designing the experimental system and monitoring the smooth operation of the system. Robot AGAMEDE, on the other hand, works 24 hours a day to experiment and report the results.

The combination of artificial intelligence and automation in a system that can produce output at high speeds stands out as a breakthrough. Most automated high-speed output systems require an operator to read the results and plan the next series of experiments after a cycle is complete. AGAMEDE, on the other hand, can do this independently without human intervention.

"Thanks to the artificial intelligence module, AGAMEDE interprets experiments without human intervention based only on mathematical models," said the inventor and chief engineer of the system, Prof. Dr. Radoslaw Pilarski continued his words as follows: “The system; It can be used in central diagnostic laboratories, pharmaceutical companies developing medical drugs and oncology laboratories researching patient-specific therapies, as well as in the R&D departments of chemical and biotechnology companies for the optimization of bio-processes.”

Developed for the EPICELL project

AGAMEDE works started in 2015 within the body of IBCH PAS. The system was developed primarily for the EPICELL project funded by the National Research and Development Center under the STRATEGMED “Prevention and Treatment of Modern Age Diseases” program. The aim of the project was to develop an optimized medium for cardiomyocyte culture. The major challenge in this study was the number of experiments required to design an appropriate mix of small molecule epigenetic modulators. For example, a formula with ten ingredients and ten different concentrations requires 10 million experiments. AGAMEDE was used at this point to search for the right combination of components in a multidimensional solution system. This improved the content of the EPICELL One reprogramming medium.

It can do 15 tests a day.

Stating that IBCH PAS has been working on RNA and DNA nucleic acids since its establishment and that they have all the equipment and facilities necessary for SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic processes, IBCH/PAS Director Prof. Marek Figlerowicz; “Our institute was the first in Poland to develop a test for the detection of SARS-CoV-2. Shortly after, we decided to combine the automation capabilities of AGAMEDE with our tests and developed a rapid diagnostic protocol that allowed us to test 15 samples a day. Although we do not have an accredited diagnostic laboratory, we have achieved an incredible result, because a person can analyze at most several hundred samples in a day. With AGAMEDE, we were able to perform 15 thousand tests,” he said.

Robots, PLC and software provided by Mitsubishi Electric

The AGAMEDE project, implemented with the support of Mitsubishi Electric, Labomatica and Perlan Techologies technology partners, used Mitsubishi Electric's 6-axis robot, PLC controllers and MELFA Basic software. The industrial robot with a long arm is the main component of the system. With the aid of an integrated robotic tool, the robot can perform micro-scale experiments on 96- and 384-well micro-assay plates, imitating the work of a laboratory technician who constantly uses analytical equipment. For this, experimental protocols entered into the control software by the operator are used.

Industrial cell culture incubators, plate and tip feeders, pipetting stations, labelers, barcode scanners, plate sealers, fluorescence readers and spectrophotometers were also used in the application. An automated confocal microscope HCA with four fluorescence channels as a highlight device is included in the AGAMEDE system. For the world of biotechnology, this device represents the microcosm equivalent of the Hubble telescope. Instead of astronomical objects, it analyzes millions of cell and tissue structures by photographing them with the same quality and efficiency. The device is equipped with an acoustic diffuser that delivers liquid in the nanoliter (millionth of a milliliter) range. The rapid delivery of such small volumes of liquids reduces research costs and increases work speed. In this way, it is possible to carry out experiments in a short time using a collection of over 115 chemicals.

Experience from Mitsubishi Electric's global strength

Emphasizing that they benefited from international experience in implementing such an advanced system in which robots and laboratory equipment work together for the first time in Poland, Mitsubishi Electric Poland Life Sciences Sector Solutions Coordinator Roman Janik; “The support of Mitsubishi Electric's global organization, which is committed to innovative projects, has been extremely helpful in this project. We all worked hard in a short time to develop a solution that would put lab technicians at ease as quickly as possible, and we were able to deliver 100 samples per week. “This has been an incredible result for us.”

Bringing together many disciplines

The AGAMEDE project is interdisciplinary, bringing together the worlds of robotics, computer science, industrial design, mathematics, biology and chemistry; Mitsubishi Electric Robotics Engineer Tomasz Scholz, who said that it would be a complex project even without time pressure, continued his words as follows: “The solutions we used for this project are innovative and unique… As in many projects, the biggest challenge was defining the goal and how we would reach the goal. The answer was to find a common technical language in which people from different fields of expertise could communicate on the same level and clarify expectations. Bridging the academic world, which thinks in abstract terms, and the industrial world, which typically follows a fixed system, is often a difficult task, but we succeeded.”

New approaches in laboratory planning

Stating that AGAMEDE refers to Ancient Greece with its design, Prof. Dr. Radosław Pilarski emphasized that they also attached importance to the laboratory area where the system is placed in the planning, and concluded by saying: “The clean room used for aseptic cell culture, which is windowless in most laboratories, is separated from established standards by giving it a completely new look. The environment is well lit thanks to the carefully closed large windows. With the added glass panels, it is ensured that the system is kept under constant observation and control without wearing clean room overalls. In addition, thanks to the high resolution 4K monitors and cameras used in the study, AGAMEDE and the experiments can be viewed remotely from anywhere in the world.”

Günceleme: 08/02/2022 15:23

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