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Why I Automate – This Robot is Changing How We Cure Diseases

The benefits of automating a medical research lab include sifting through massive amounts of data in a short period of time.

Scientists at a National Institutes of Health laboratory search for the right combinations of chemicals to fight diseases. In this next installment in the “Why I Automate” series, researcher Chris Austin describes how robots can test millions of potential drug combinations that would overwhelm human capabilities.

There are 7,000 known diseases but medicines exist to battle only 500 of those illnesses. The laboratory programmed robots that are traditionally used in the manufacturing space, but specially engineered to work in a clean laboratory environment. They handle plates with diseased cells and test against 450,000 different chemical combinations to find solutions. Not one of the tests is duplicated and this shows how automated equipment can learn to handle unique data.

Automated equipment in labs can work without harm near biological contaminants, radioactive material, and toxic chemotherapy compounds. Companies in all industries handling hazardous materials can automate and make more strategic use of people and keep them safe.

In the video clip, Mr. Austin describes a critical moment in the testing of leukemia cells and how the automated process uncovered a solution available to people in months that would have taken researchers years to discover

Special thanks to our Why I Automate video sponsor, Staubli Robotics.

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