Automating the Production of IPS Cells

Ten years ago there was a lot of controversy about the use of human embryonic stem cells in scientific research. The problem was solved with the creation of IPS Cells (induced pluripotent stem cells) which are made by turning adult skin or other cells back into embryonic like stem cells. The process has been time consuming and manual so robotic equipment has now been produced to make it much faster and more efficient.

The New York Stem Cell Foundation designed and has built a revolutionary, high-throughput robotic platform that automates and standardizes the process of transforming patient samples into stem cells. This one-of-a-kind system addresses challenges that face the entire field, and is now an essential resource that NYSCF provides in collaborations with leading academic and industry partners around the world.

In the paper published in Nature Methods, NYSCF scientists demonstrated how the NYSCF Global Stem Cell Array?, for the first time ever, gives researchers the scale to look at diverse populations and draw meaningful conclusions. This breakthrough technology will allow researchers to better understand the underlying causes of disease and, ultimately, create individually tailored treatments for patients.

Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are an essential tool for modeling how causal genetic variants impact cellular function in disease, as well as an emerging source of tissue for regenerative medicine. The preparation of somatic cells, their reprogramming and the subsequent verification of iPSC pluripotency are laborious, manual processes limiting the scale and reproducibility of this technology. This process can not be automated using a modular, robotic platform for iPSC reprogramming, high-throughput conversion of skin biopsies into iPSCs and differentiated cells with minimal manual intervention. Automated reprogramming and the pooled selection of polyclonal pluripotent cells results in high-quality, stable iPSCs. These lines display less line-to-line variation than either manually produced lines or lines produced through automation followed by single-colony subcloning. The robotic platform will enable the application of iPSCs to population-scale biomedical problems including the study of complex genetic diseases and the development of personalized medicines.