Development of a Robotic Single Cell Surgery System

Project: Research

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Enabled by new sophisticated research tools, investigations into single cell behavior havebeen carried out over the last several years. While great strides have been recently madein the development of these research tools and techniques, much work is left to do. Theadvent of highly sophisticated tools to assist with micro-scale biological task execution,such as robot-aided optical tweezers, has created new opportunities for ground breakingresearch in the investigation of biological cells and other objects at the micro/nanoscale.The opportunity exists to create even more powerful cell testing and evaluationtools through the introduction of established principles of automation to this new andexciting biological testing field.In this proposal, we propose to develop a robotic system for single cell surgery. Thesystem will be based on a microfluidic system to pattern cells, sophisticated roboticallycontrolled optical tweezers with the capability to independently control many opticaltraps, coupled with an integrated optical scissors. Through vision based feedback control,the system will enable numerous tasks to be executed for cell surgery, such as patterningcells in a microwell array device, re-orienting cells for perforation, perforating cells andextracting cell organelles. We will then demonstrate the performance of such a roboticsingle cell surgery system by evaluating a test procedure, e.g., somatic cell nucleartransfer (SCNT). SCNT is a widely used method to clone animals, e.g., sheep, pig, bovine,mice and so on. The nucleus is transferred into the enucleated oocyte to reprogram thesomatic nucleus and hence develop an embryo which has the same epigenetics as thesomatic cell donor. This development will provide a new robotic approach with greaterthroughput and higher success rates compared with manual techniques. Procedurescarried out manually introduce uncertainty due to human operator variability, leading touncertainty in the results obtained.The development of robotic single cell surgical task implementation has the potential toremove human operator variation from these complex biological processes, leading tomore consistent results, higher throughput and greater cell survival rates.


Project number9042200
Grant typeGRF
Effective start/end date1/01/162/12/19

    Research areas

  • Robotics,Cell Surgery,Single Cell Manipulation,Microengineering Technology,