Microfluidic Benchtop Laboratory Automation

 

A business case on incubation

Molbot was incubated and supported by Camtech and SPRING Singapore with the goal to create products that transform the productivity of biomedical research through the replacement of manual processes with an automated workstation. The Molbot system, a combination of novel hardware and customized software, was designed to have application-specific chips, which configure a generic platform machine for a specific application.

Large portion of biomedica research is manual labour and tedious reagent preparation, rather than exciting ‘real’ science. Most of the manual tasks can be relatively easily automated to increase quality and productivity.

Lab-on-a-chip

‘Lab-on-a-chip’ technology (microfluidics) has potential to automate routine protocols in biomedical research, similar to how microelectronics has automated computing. As professional biomedical researchers we have been looking for microfluidics devices to automate our own research. The existing robots and microfluidics machines were expensive, inflexible and bulky, only appropriate for a small number of genomic ‘factory labs’. 

Molbot concept

Molbot is a small versatile ‘lab-on-a-chip’ device for automating DNA purification, and screening by PCR. This is a frequent and tedious task in most biomedical labs. The device is a customisable ‘platform’, and accepts plastic disposable ‘labs-on-chips’. These are prototyped by us according your project needs. During customisation, we troubleshoot standard biochemistry to work on these chips, using our combined 20 years biomedical research experience.  

Microfluidics DNA workstation 

The first product concept was a versatile microfluidics DNA workstation, targeting the DNA research market. The founders' goal was to replace the manual labor of PhD scientists on routine Iabwork. The completed proof-of-concept work demonstrated the technical feasibility of the approach to provide a generic, fully automated biomedical lab-on-a-chip, with a software interface. A key point was the demonstration that the company's fluidic control logic is able to integrate complex processes on simple plastic chips (i.e., with no valves or pumps on-chip), by way of precise and flexible control of droplets.

 

Intellectual property development

Molbot's novel approach to molecular biology automation has resulted in a proof of concept prototype based on a pneumatically controlled fluidic system, with a depth of knowhow in on-chip sensing mechanisms, feedback and control of liquid movement, able to meet the demands of automation within molecular biology laboratories.