Automation of iPS cell lines production

by Alexey Bersenev on October 17, 2015 · 0 comments

in embryonic/iPS

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New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF) is one of few research organizations which are working on automation and industrialization of iPS cell lines production. NYSCF develops robotic platform – Global Stem Cell Array to automate entire process of iPS cell lines generation. Recently, NYSCF becomes the first organization to publish detailed methodology for automation of iPS cell production. Unfortunately, the article is paywalled (as almost all papers in Nature Methods). But we can watch some processes via links to videos, shared below.

What is a value of automation of iPS cell lines production? Well, it allows to:

  • scale high-throughput lines production
  • minimization of line-to-line variability
  • save a lot of time, money (less labor) and minimize human error
  • increase statistical power (output) of studies for diseases and drug screen.

I’d especially highlight minimization of variability:

Through automation of the reprogramming process and the generation of pooled, polyclonal lines, more than one-third of the variability that existed between manually selected lines was eliminated. This finding demonstrates that at the very least, a substantial portion of the variation observed between manually derived iPSC lines has purely technical origins that may obscure inherent genotypic differences. Furthermore, we showed that the level of variability between pooled cell lines made from many donors was not different from that found with such lines from a single donor.

8 robotic instruments handle the whole process. The first two modules are dedicated for fibroblasts derivation and testing for potential contaminants under quarantine conditions. The other modules connected “liquid-handling systems, automated incubators, centrifuges and microscopes” through robotic arms. The following processes were robotized:

  • thawing of biopsy material
  • enzymatic digestion of biopsy material
  • culture and passaging of biopsy material outgrowth
  • image of cells condition and quantification
  • reprogramming (mRNA)
  • colony visualization and counting
  • immunostaining
  • colony picking
  • MACS-based purification and sorting from one plate to another
  • culture expansion and embryoid bodies formation
  • cell pellet sampling for DNA/RNA isolation
  • differentiation to 3-germ layers derivatives
  • media exchange
  • cell seeding and splitting
  • cell colony consolidation
  • feezing at -80C
  • tracking by barcodes

Now, links to the videos, which you can watch for free:
video 1: Somatic cell isolation and expansion
video 2: Automation of somatic cell thawing and reprogramming
video 3: iPSC magnetic bead sorting post reprogramming
video 4: iPSC cherry picking post sorting
video 5: iPSC expansion, QC, and freezing
video 6: QC step – generation of embryoid bodies

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