Automated COVID-19 Antibody Testing Workflow

Updated: 4 days ago

The BioAssemblyBot® together with BioApps™ automates experiments such as an ELISA protocol

Automated workflow continues to be a rationale behind incorporating the utility of a 6-axis robotic arm into the field of biofabrication. The latest in software innovations from the Advanced Solutions Life Sciences (ASLS) team has made this a reality. BioApps™ allows users to create automated workflows such that an entire experimental procedure can be completed from start to finish automatically thereby increasing experimental throughput while maintaining high reproducibility. Uniquely, this system can interface with external analytical instruments so that after the assays are set-up, the multi-well plates can be moved into plate readers, PCR machines, and microscopy platforms for assaying. In this example, we are illustrating an automated ELISA-based protocol for detecting COVID-19 related antibodies in patient serum reconfigured for use in a 384-well format whereby the entire workflow for a 384-well plate-based procedure is designed in BioApps™ and automatically completed by the BioAssemblyBot® (Figure 1).

Figure 1. The automated ELISA procedure using BioApps™ and the BioAssemblyBot®. The protocol is designed and created by the user in BioApps™, a screenshot of which is shown in the top left panel. The following panels illustrate how the protocol is completed using BioAssemblyBot® pipetting tools as well as pick-and-place tools.

The Process

The process begins by creating the desired workflow within the BioApps™ interface. Within BioApps™, users build the workflow by assembling different operational tasks, represented by task icons in the software, via workflow pathway connectors, instructing the BioAssemblyBot® as to which tools and steps to execute while progressing through the workflow. The user can also define decision points that can then be integrated into the instruction sets and tied to external data readouts from analytical systems. In this example ELISA, the BioAssemblyBot® then utilizes the latest automation tools and operational features developed by the Advanced Solutions Life Sciences team to execute the workflow. The multi-well plate is moved by the BioAssemblyBot® and automated tool changing steps lead. For this experiment, antigen, blocking and reaction buffers, 2°Ab, and patient samples are all deposited into wells of the plate, with automated tip change, tip disposal, and waste disposal. With BioApps™ and the BioAssemblyBot®, experiments are expedited without personnel intervention. An example of the overall timeframe to complete this type of workflow is provided in the table below (Table 1).

Table 1. Automated Task Workflow Times

Plate Movement and Incubation

The Pick & Place BioAssemblyTool™ is used to de-lid and lid the multi-well plate for the incubation and storage steps of this process. Specifically, the stage is heated to 37°C to affix the antigen to the bottom of the wells. Conversely the plate could be transferred to a refrigerator or chilled on-stage, limiting the need to move the plate or for personnel intervention. As previously mentioned, the BioAssemblyBot® can also move the plate to peripheral instrumentation to perform measurements or additional assays depending on the procedure type (such as a thermocycler for PCR-based experiments).

Variable Volume Dispensing and Automated Aspiration

A key feature to the automated workflow is that the ASLS Pipette tool can dispense a variety of volumes from as low as 0.5 ml to as high as 1000 ml. In this example, the entire volume of antigen needed to place 2 ml of antigen solution per well 384 well plate is loaded into the tip and dispensed across the plate. Similar pipetting steps are performed with different dispensing volumes as needed during the entire procedure. Any wash steps also utilize the Pipette tool for automated solution pipetting, tip change, and waste disposal. Conversely, the plate can be transferred to an automatic washing station and brought back into the work area for subsequent processing steps. The Pipette tool can also aspirate reagents and buffers during the workflow (as shown in Figure 2). Aspirates are disposed-of at a receptacle located at the back of the enclosure and repeated across the entire plate

Figure 2. Automated aspiration is also achieved using the BioAssemblyBot® pipette tool.

"Automate the Science" - ELISA Testing for COVID-19

Utilizing the latest in Advanced Solutions Life Sciences automation technology, the BioAssemblyBot® automates assays by conducting the preparation, processing, and execution required for an experiment. This provides the throughput necessary for rapid result generation, such as what is needed to combat the current COVID-19 pandemic.

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