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SSPC Impact Case Study: Biologics

SSPC Impact Case Study: Small Molecule

AUTOPILOT: Automated High-Throughput Analysis of Cellular Phenotyping

Project Lead:

Prof. Andrew Kellett, Dublin City University (DCU)

Areas of Impact:

Health, Societal

Scientific Domains:

Novel Modalities

The SFI Research Infrastructure Programme facilitates broad usage across Ireland to encourage partnerships and collaboration between different cohorts of researchers in Ireland; for example, between universities, technological universities, Institutes of Technology, other eligible research bodies, researchers in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, and between different cohorts of researchers in Ireland.

Led by Prof. Andrew Kellett (School of Chemical Sciences), Dublin City University (DCU) was awarded €2.41M for the AUTOPILOT system from SFI’s Infrastructure call. The proposal was developed as part of a team effort in collaboration with Dr Alex Eustace (Biotechnology, DCU), Dr Denis Collins (DCU), and Dr Creina Slator (Chemistry, DCU).

AUTOPILOT: Automated High-Throughput Analysis of Cellular Phenotyping

In 2022, in an application led by Prof. Andrew Kellett, DCU was awarded €2.41M for the AUTOPILOT system from SFI’s Infrastructure call. This system is a unique, custom build, robotically controlled platform enabling high-throughput cell characterisation including phenotyping by flow cytometry, high content analysis, proteomics, and cell culture analysis. It enables numerous automated workflows to be performed simultaneously, essentially facilitating analysis of any perturbation to cellular function by a large pool of compounds or in a number of model systems.

Late diagnosis and a lack of curative treatments for aggressive cancers is likely to remain one of the most complex and expensive health issues of the 21st century in Ireland and beyond. Despite advances in our understanding of disease states and tandem targeted drug discoveries, clinical drug failure rates remain stubbornly high. This failure is partly associated with the analysis of complex disease states under narrow conditions with limited read-out and target pool screening capabilities.

The AUTOPILOT system is a breakthrough robotic automated cell culture characterisation suite that can address this limitation. The system can perform multiple cellular phenotypic characterisation analyses to provide a global quantifiable measurement of both disease states and drug efficacy. The instrumentation cuts across multiple disciplines of intensive research focus in Ireland—including drug discovery and translational medicine—and will fundamentally strengthen both early- and late-stage research capabilities and enhance our ability to produce excellent science.

In a national context, AUTOPILOT provides an interface to support researchers in their analyses of diagnostic and therapeutic biomarkers, and positions DCU at the centre of advances in Therapeutics, Diagnostics, Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, and Robotics.

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