Collaborative research shows the robustness of robotics in growing stem cells

Australian collaborative research has demonstrated how robotics can grow high quality stem cells.

Collaborative research from multiple Australian universities and research centres including the University of Melbourne, Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA), University of Queensland, Garvan Institute, University of Tasmania, CSIRO and Monash University has precisely characterised the gene expression profile of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) maintained through robotics on two specialised culture media types. The study describes very similar expression of core pluripotency genes irrespective of media use.

This research was co-led by University of Melbourne and CERA PhD student Maciej Daniszewski and University of Queensland senior research officer Dr Quan Nguyen.

In 2007 scientists discovered that mature skin cells (fibroblasts) could be reprogrammed into iPSCs, and subsequently differentiated into any cell type present in the body. iPSCs have transformed the stem cell industry by allowing researchers to study diseases in a dish, as well as identifying new drug candidates and testing drug toxicity.

The research team investigated how two media compared in the maintenance of iPSC pluripotency when used on an automated platform. The advantage of automation over traditional manual maintenance of cells is that it allows standardisation of all procedures performed and eliminates risk of human error, which helps to limit the variation between samples. This is important for analysis of the results as it reduces “noise”, which could potentially obscure interpretation. Moreover, it also allows growth of larger cohort of samples in parallel which allows researchers to conduct other experiments while the stem cells are being maintained.

Utilising a technique known as single-cell RNA sequencing, the research team observed that the iPSC lines studied showed high degree of similarity, irrespective of the media used to grow the cells.

This research was the result of collaboration between Stem Cells Australia members. The P├ębay lab and Hewitt lab reprogrammed patient fibroblasts into iPSCs, which were subsequently analysed in collaboration with the Laslett lab for expression of pluripotency markers, and with the Powell lab for the single cell RNA sequencing analysis.

For more information, read the paper.

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Maciej Daniszewski

maciej.daniszewski@unimelb.edu.au