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Automated Biology Is Now an Affordable Reality

by
niko.mccarty
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How printed circuit boards and off-the-shelf components can automate biological experiments.

When the sun dips below the Pacific ocean, the white domes of Mount Wilson Observatory can still be seen to the east. Perched on the San Gabriel crest, the Observatory receives the final kisses of sunlight at the end of every day.

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“Ido my experiments from home, actually,” said Dr. Harrison Steel, the creator of a new device called Chi.Bio, through my computer screen.

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published in PLoS Biology, an open-access journal, last week.Chi.Bio began as a cure for monotony — a simple device to grow cells — but soon expanded in functionality. Whenever Steel had to perform a new type of experiment, he figured out a way to automate it with some DIY know-how. The result is an intricate piece of equipment made from about $300 worth of printed circuit boards (PCBs) and off-the-shelf parts, that can grow cells, dilute them, probe them, control them, and measure them — all remotely.
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Chi.Bio only has three components: a control computer, peristaltic pumps for liquid handling, and bioreactors. But those components are loaded with functionality.Chi.Bio.
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eVOLVER system, published a couple of years ago in Nature Biotechnology, but there are also “biohackers” that build DIY hardware, in kitchens and garages, for similar purposes.

democratize insulin, create “real vegan cheese”, or produce glow-in-the-dark plants.

instruction manual. Or you can skip the soldering and buy one from LabMaker for just under a thousand dollars.

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PLoS Biology paper are Robert Habgood, Ciarán Kelly and Antonis Papachristodoulou.

Reference: Steel H, Habgood R, Kelly C and Papachristodoulou A. “In situ characterisation and manipulation of biological systems with Chi.Bio” PLoS Biology (2020). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.3000794

http://Bioeconomy.XYZ (Click here to read the original article)

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