Robots play a vital role in the laboratories of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation. The machines assist scientists in the study of diseases like lupus and in detecting compounds helpful in treating diabetes.
A researcher at the medical research foundation, Patrick Gaffney stated that robots are programmed to automatically carry out a complicated sequence of operations. In his laboratory, robots played a major role in detecting genes connected to lupus, a disease that affects the body’s immune system.
Graham Wiley, a researcher at the foundation explained that the robots never tire, offer unparalleled precision and consistency. A commonly used tool in the laboratories is a 96-well plate. It is a plastic tray with 12 rows containing eight biological samples in each row. While technicians need to fill each row one by one, the robot with a black box appearance is programmed to fill all the rows at the same time. Thus, the use of such a robotic device can save the laboratory’s valuable time since thousands of samples are processed routinely. Wiley also added that since the machines carry out repetitive tasks without many errors, it allows technicians to utilize the time saved for more critical projects.
The laboratory also deploys complicated robots such as the $600,000 system designed to seek samples in order to identify modifications in DNA in samples.
A recent project used the robots to detect a genetic variant linked with lupus, specific cancers and heart diseases. It required analysis of 30,000 distinct genetic variants. Gaffney explained that with the robots, it took the team eight months to collate the data, which would have easily taken three to four years if done manually.