High content screening – automating the ImageXpress

High content screening automation – Molecular Devices ImageXpress®

MD Molecular Devices ImageXpress® Micro and Ultra HCS Imaging Systems offer a complete solution for High Content Screening (HCS) and High Content Analysis (HCA).

PAA has integrated the ImageXpress® HCS Imaging System into a range of robotic workcells using the PAA laboratory robots and Mitsubishi factory robots.

The ImageXpress® plate reader is an epifluorescent microscope imager optimized for speed and small footprint. The Molecular Devices ImageXpress® HCS Imaging System is a point-scanning confocal system featuring two to four solid-state lasers, which  provide up to 4 simultaneous excitation wavelengths. Both utilize MetaXpress® image analysis software and both are compatible with PAA’s Overlord laboratory automation software.

Automated workcell for Molecular Devices ImageXpress® High Content Screening

The standard automated workcell consists of:

  • MD Molecular Devices ImageXpress® Micro and Ultra HCS imaging systems
  • plate storage stacks
  • optional liquid handling (see picture left)
  • a PAA robot or S-LAB low cost plate loader
  • wide-angle barcode reader
  • safety screen (shown left, an optional extra required by some company safety officers)

The process

  1. The robot gets a plate from input stack
  2. The barcode is scanned
  3. The plate reader drawer is opened
  4. The robot puts the plate in the plate reader, close the drawer, run plate reader (with plate ID information)
  5. When the plate read is complete, open the plate reader drawer,  and the robot removes the plate from the plate reader
  6. The robot puts the plate in the output stack,
  7. Move plate reader data to the required folder on the PC or server

Advanced laboratory automation

As with all Overlord applications, any of the 500+ laboratory instruments can be combined in an automation workcell. The application (left) is the “Robot Scientist” project at the University of Wales at Aberystwyth. In this workcell, 2 robots, working in cooperation, feed the sample preparation and sample analysis sections of the workcell. A suite of artificial intelligence (ai) software, developed at the university, then develops new heuristics for the experiments being performed, with the system continuously optimizing itself.