Scientists have developed a “smart” robot in order to accelerate cancer research. The “smart” robot plans and conducts experiments with many substances and draws its own conclusions from the results to find optimal treatment combinations.
The paper discussing the “smart” robot was published in the journal Scientific Reports.
The robot system was developed by a team led by Dr. Mats Gustafsson, a professor of medical bioinformatics at Uppsala University in Sweden.
Dr. Mats Gustafsson is one of a few laboratories in the world to use this type of lab robot.
Rather than combining a few substances at a time, the robot system has the ability to handle about a dozen drugs simultaneously.
The goal for the future is to be able to handle the combination of many more substances, preferably hundreds.
Researchers have only used the system to look for combinations that kill cancerous cells without taking side effects into account.
The next step is to make the robot system more automated and smarter.
The current version of the robot system still involves a series of manual steps that could eventually be automated.
Researchers also hope to build prior knowledge into the algorithm of the robot system such as prior knowledge about drug targets and disease pathways.
Patients with the same cancer type that reoccurs sometimes develop the cancer cells develop resistance to the drugs previously used to treat the cancer.
The new robot system could become important in the efforts to find new drug compounds that make these resistant cells sensitive again.