Translation of brain tumor research with the ASSIST PLUS pipetting robots (Video)

Accelerating the translation of brain tumor research with the ASSIST PLUS pipetting robot

My name is Alexander Beck. I am the Principal Investigator of the pediatric neuro-oncology group here at the Center for Neuropathology at the LMU in Munich. I started out as a clinician in pediatrics trying to make a difference working directly with children suffering from brain tumors.

But despite all the progress that we made over the past decades, in the treatment of pediatric cancers there are 
still some childhood brain tumors that have a very grim prognosis and no hope of a cure. So I left the clinic and dedicated my career to finding new therapy options for the affected children through research.

We focus here on a very specific type of brain tumor called "Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma" or "DIPG" and it's one of the worst cancers that you can imagine. We also established a charitable foundation to support the research we're doing 

Our research focuses on rapid translation of effective drugs into the clinic. To this end we built a very complex and very accurate model of the tumor that we now use to screen for potential drug candidates here in our lab. Most of our work  is funded through donations and funding of our projects is always a limiting factor.  

This is why it is so important for us to be on the lookout for cutting-edge lab equipment that allows us to be as productive as possible with our limited resources in order to help our young patients in the most effective way. I had already acquired several INTEGRA products including the EVOLVE manual pipette and the VOYAGER adjustable tip spacing pipettes.  

My team members and I really enjoy working with these time saving pipettes and the GRIPTIPS that go along with all the INTEGRA pipetting products. When you're conducting as much pipetting as we do, it's great to know that you don't have to worry about losing tips or samples. 

Buying the ASSIST PLUS pipetting robot accommodating INTEGRA's electronic pipettes proved to be a real game changer in terms of reproducibility and our productivity. We do a large amount of cell culture and we set up the ASSIST PLUS workflow to test a lot of different drugs each week.  

First we seat the tumor cells into 96 or 384 well plates. Then we do drug dilutions and then drug treatments. Finally, the system is used for a viability essay. In this way we can test up to 30 plates a week, which increases our throughput tremendously coming from only two plates a week by manual processing.  

Automating this process frees up a lot of time that we can spend on other parts of our projects. Using the VOYAGER pipettes on the ASSIST PLUS has not only increased our throughput, it also made our work much faster and more 
reproducible. We are now optimizing the use of the VOYAGER 6 channel pipette with whiteboard 

On the ASSIST PLUS to transfer emerald bodies from a 96 well plate to a 24 well plate. Automating this process cuts down the time we usually spend on it from hours to literally just a couple of minutes. Creating automated pipetting protocols for the ASSIST PLUS using the VIALAB software is very straightforward.  

The software is very intuitive and as easy to use as a smartphone. The option to simulate protocols before you execute them really helps us to prevent mistakes before they are made. The ASSIST PLUS pipetting robot is without a doubt 
the system that had the most impact on our work in terms of reproducibility and productivity.

To my knowledge there is no system out there that even compares to its capabilities especially at 
this price point. There's no doubt in my mind that the INTEGRA products in my lab accelerated 
our research tremendously making me hopeful that we can provide new therapeutic options for the affected children in the near future.

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