Acoustic Liquid Handling Is Making Personalized Medicine a Reality

MONDAY, APRIL 25, 2016

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Labcyte Senior Research Fellow Joe Olechno has a new article in Personalized Medicine in Oncology that offers an informative view of how the Echo® Liquid Handler based on acoustic droplet ejection technology has been instrumental in recent efforts using ex vivo cell assays to inform individualized treatment decisions.

In “The Rebirth of Ex Vivo Cell Screening for Clinical Use,” Dr. Olechno discusses how the miniaturization of reactions with acoustic liquid handling allows scientists to test large numbers of drugs and drug combinations to measure their effect directly on cancer cells taken from a patient. It’s a marked improvement over years of testing cell lines that demonstrate genotypic and phenotypic drift from their original state.

Dr. Olechno took the opportunity to showcase some Labcyte customers turning out truly impressive data using this approach. At the Institute for Molecular Medicine (FIMM) at the University of Helsinki, for instance, scientists use acoustic liquid handling as part of a system that “can assess the sensitivity and resistance of an individual patient’s tumors to hundreds of drugs and drug combinations in a matter of days,” he reports. “With this system, patients in whom several rounds of therapy have failed have received new therapy that led to remission.” FIMM also uses this information to generate a drug sensitivity score, which helps physicians tailor chemo treatments specifically for each patient.

Another example comes from Vivia Biotech , a Spanish diagnostic lab that develops cell screening assays that accurately reflect the tumor microenvironment. “Vivia has profiled samples from patients with acute myeloid leukemia using an automated flow cytometry technique to show how examination of individual tumors can help guide combination therapy,” Dr. Olechno writes.

Both of these organizations demonstrate the remarkable potential for ex vivo cell screening in personalizing treatment for patients, from choosing the best drug or combination of drugs to determining the most effective dosage. “Looking first at an ex vivo assay will both prevent ineffective rounds of chemotherapy and lead to faster cures,” he writes.

We’re very proud that acoustic liquid handling is helping scientists achieve this incredible vision for better healthcare.