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Automated machine learning robot unlocks new potential for genetics research

This technology will save labs time and money while enabling large-scale experiments

Date:
April 26, 2024
Source:
University of Minnesota
Summary:
Researchers have constructed a robot that uses machine learning to fully automate a complicated microinjection process used in genetic research.
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University of Minnesota Twin Cities researchers have constructed a robot that uses machine learning to fully automate a complicated microinjection process used in genetic research.

In their experiments, the researchers were able to use this automated robot to manipulate the genetics of multicellular organisms, including fruit fly and zebrafish embryos. The technology will save labs time and money while enabling them to more easily conduct new, large-scale genetic experiments that were not possible previously using manual techniques

The research is featured on the cover of the April 2024 issue of GENETICS, a peer-reviewed, open access, scientific journal. The work was co-led by two University of Minnesota mechanical engineering graduate students Andrew Alegria and Amey Joshi. The team is also working to commercialize this technology to make it widely available through the University of Minnesota start-up company, Objective Biotechnology.

Microinjection is a method for introducing cells, genetic material, or other agents directly into embryos, cells, or tissues using a very fine pipette. The researchers have trained the robot to detect embryos that are one-hundredth the size of a grain of rice. After detection, the machine can calculate a path and automate the process of the injections.

"This new process is more robust and reproducible than manual injections," said Suhasa Kodandaramaiah, a University of Minnesota mechanical engineering associate professor and senior author of the study. "With this model, individual laboratories will be able to think of new experiments that you couldn't do without this type of technology."

Typically, this type of research requires highly skilled technicians to perform the microinjection, which many laboratories do not have. This new technology could expand the ability to perform large experiments in labs, while reducing time and costs.

"This is very exciting for the world of genetics. Writing and reading DNA have drastically improved in recent years, but having this technology will increase our ability to perform large-scale genetic experiments in a wide range of organisms," said Daryl Gohl, a co-author of the study, the group leader of the University of Minnesota Genomics Center's Innovation Lab and research assistant professor in the Department of Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development.

Not only can this technology be used in genetic experiments, but it can also help to preserve endangered species through cryopreservation, a preservation technique conducted at ultra-low temperatures.

"You can use this robot to inject nanoparticles into cells and tissues that helps in cryopreservation and in the process of rewarming afterwards," Kodandaramaiah explained.

Other team members highlighted other applications for the technology that could have even more impact.

"We hope that this technology could eventually be used for in vitro fertilization, where you could detect those eggs on the microscale level," said Andrew Alegria, co-lead author on the paper and University of Minnesota mechanical engineering graduate research assistant in the Biosensing and Biorobotics Lab.


Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Minnesota. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Andrew D Alegria, Amey S Joshi, Jorge Blanco Mendana, Kanav Khosla, Kieran T Smith, Benjamin Auch, Margaret Donovan, John Bischof, Daryl M Gohl, Suhasa B Kodandaramaiah. High-throughput genetic manipulation of multicellular organisms using a machine-vision guided embryonic microinjection robot. GENETICS, 2024; 226 (4) DOI: 10.1093/genetics/iyae025

Cite This Page:

University of Minnesota. "Automated machine learning robot unlocks new potential for genetics research." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 April 2024. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2024/04/240426110057.htm>.
University of Minnesota. (2024, April 26). Automated machine learning robot unlocks new potential for genetics research. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 23, 2024 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2024/04/240426110057.htm
University of Minnesota. "Automated machine learning robot unlocks new potential for genetics research." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2024/04/240426110057.htm (accessed May 23, 2024).

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