Biological systems are complex. They consist of networks of often simple biochemical reactions that combine in unexpected and emergent ways. Despite this complexity, many scientists still optimise these systems using the traditional “one factor at a time” mindset.
In contrast, Design of Experiments (DoE) takes a much more powerful, efficient, multi-factorial approach. Despite the utility of DoE methods, they are notoriously hard to execute in the laboratory. Often, they require weeks of planning and numerous manual, error-prone liquid handling steps. Automation is a good solution, but most automated DoE solutions have been limited to a fixed number of factors, or hampered by legacy design setups that may not be suitable for executing future DoEs. Re-purposing such inflexible systems for new experiments requires considerable experience and effort.
To empower biologists to robustly probe biological systems, we must move towards the creation analysis of large, multi-factorial data-sets. To do this, we developed Antha, an easy-to-use biological operating system that can implement multi-factorial DoE optimisation.
Antha allows you to leverage all the benefits of multi-factorial optimisation without the burden of extensive planning or manual liquid handling.
Antha works with existing laboratory hardware. With its easy-to-use interface, it can execute workflows as simple or as complex as you want. Protocols can easily be reproduced and shared across teams, allowing multiple experiments to be run simultaneously.
Case Study: Complex Growth Medium Liquid Handling Automation
Our client, a multinational pharmaceutical company, was experiencing a poor yield of a key protein expressed in E. coli and therefore conducted an Antha enabled DoE optimisation of growth media conditions. The client utilised the Antha DoE integration to easily upload their designs. The experiment was then simulated, and error checked via the drag and drop Antha workflow editor, before being automated on a Gilson PIPETMAX® controlled by the Antha platform.
By using our platform the pharmaceutical company was able to rapidly complete a 384-run DOE study using 74% fewer tips and liquid handling actions. Crucially as Antha can directly integrate experimental design files from widely used DoE software, such as JMP and Design Expert, it seamlessly integrated into the company’s existing workflow. The planning time for the DoE optimisation was also reduced from 1-2 weeks to 2 hours and the robot running time reduced by 20%. By using Antha the pharmaceutical company was able to test more conditions simultaneously, more accurately, and thus establish an optimal combination of nitrogen sources, buffer compositions and carbon sources that resulted in 300% increase in protein titre.
Ready to Revolutionise your Workflow?
The example given here illustrates a proof of concept case for integrating Computer Aided Biology to deliver workflows. With applications rapidly coming on-line for advanced bio processing solutions, construct assembly, assay development, and drivers for more pieces of lab hardware the opportunities for transforming your lab’s productivity with digitally enabled DoE are endless.