EECS associate professor M. Fatih Yanik's group has developed a new technology that will allow industry-scale screens on whole living organisms. The new system is capable of testing large chemical libraries using robotics for drug discovery--a major improvement over previous methods for in vivo studies.
The work is published by first author Christopher Rohde (EECS PhD candidate) and Prof. Yanik in Nature Communications. The article titled, "Subcellular in vivo time-lapse imaging and optical manipulation of Caenorhabditis elegans in standard multiwell plates," [citation: Nat. Commun. 2:271 doi: 10.1038/ncomms1266 (2011)] demonstrates a technology that makes large-scale studies possible in existing laboratories for chemical screening and drug discovery. The new machine can be integrated into industrial robotic liquid-handling platforms that manipulate, incubate, and image multiwell plates containing compound libraries and small organisms. It also allows imaging of cellular processes in live organisms over their entire lifespan which can permit studies of aging, neurodegeneration, and regeneration at the highest temporal and spatial resolutions.
Professor Yanik points out that "This new technology is so scalable and robust that a single machine can operate for many years without failure, screening millions of chemicals." This level of success is possible because the new system does not use any microfluidic or mechanical components.