How AIM Biotech is automating organ-on-a-chip drug discovery

AIM Biotech is using Opentron’s lab robot to implement automated drug discovery on in vitro platforms that provide more predictive data and higher throughput

When the scientists at AIM Biotech developed our idenTx organ-on-a-chip (OOAC) platform for human cell-based drug discovery, we focused on creating a system that could be used by anyone implementing OOAC-based tissue culture assays in their lab. Built on technology developed by the pioneering mind of Dr. Roger Kamm at MIT, these systems enable the use of human cells in co-culture with the flexibility to recreate human tissues and disease states with physiological accuracy that traditional 2D tissue culture cannot approach.

Left: idenTx 3, 9 and 40; Right: Imaging of human blood brain barrier model using idenTx 9

“The idenTx system combines sophisticated microfluidic designs in a form factor that is familiar to any scientist performing tissue culture assays. The fact that the system is expandable from a 3-experiment chip, to 9- and then 40-experiment plates, facilitates scalability in a way that is unmatched in the field,” says AIM Biotech CEO Jim McGorry.

The use of standard SBS-format plates as the basis for this scalability enables researchers take full advantage of the high-content screening modalities that they already rely on for target identification, target validation, lead identification, and lead optimization.

idenTx’s flexibility to create complex microphysiological systems is the result of the ability to seed cells either to the central gel channel (containing a polymerizable hydrogel) or to either of the two flanking media channels.  However, with up to 40 experiments on a plate, the steps of gel filling, media filling and cell seeding are best suited to automated liquid handling.

Closeup of idenTx central gel channel and flanking media channels

“When developing the idenTx system, we knew compatibility with automated fluid handling was going to be a critical useability factor.  We wanted to validate our idenTx Handling Protocols on a capable, affordable and easy-to-use automation system, and the Opentrons OT-2 proved to be an ideal platform for this,” says Sei Hien Lim, AIM Biotech Applications Development Manager.

OT-2 deck layout designed using Opentrons Protocol Designer

AIM Biotech’s Applications Team utilized Opentrons Protocol Designer to easily create custom protocols for automating the fluid handling in all preparatory and experimental steps, including preparing and filling collagen gel; hydrating and coating media channels; seeding cells; changing medium; and staining cells. Using the OT-2, our team established the foundation for automation of the steps required from the most basic to the most complex human cell-based assays for drug discovery in the areas of cancer, immuno-oncology, vascular biology and neurobiology.

To learn more about AIM Biotech’s idenTx system and the OT-2, check out the video below, and visit the Opentrons website.

Gathering more predictive, human-relevant data is what AIM Biotech is all about. Want to discuss how idenTx can transform your drug discovery research? Use the chat bubble on the bottom right corner of this page, and we’ll reach out to you—or check out our Contact Us page. Also be sure to look at how our contract research services can help streamline your workflow.