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Automatic Liquid Handlers for Synthetic Biology

Synthetic biology is a rapidly growing field. Using genetic engineering methods scientists are able to create organisms. Agriculture is cultivating organisms for the production of materials that better human life. Synthetic biology takes it a step further by designing organisms. 

Why is life sciences going automated?

“Software is eating the world, in all sectors.” -Andreessen Horowitz

The fastest growing companies today are either technology companies or companies that are embracing technology. Life science is not immune to this trend. Software is coming into the life sciences. The irony is that DNA is the software of the biological world and we are using computer software to edit biological software.

“Software to edit DNA. DNA to do everything.” -Edward Nashton

Every year there is more lab focus on data and software. And every year you become closer and closer at fully programming life.

What would programming life look like? What are some of the proposed uses of synthetic biology?

Proposed uses of synthetic biology:

  • Cancer diagnoses and treatment 
  • Removal of toxins in the environment
  • Mining metals from ocean water
  • Water desalination and purification 
  • Creating lab-grown synthetic meat
  • Self-repairing building materials 
  • Creating waterproof and durable clothing
  • Carbon sequestration 
  • Public lighting, replacing street lights  
  • Biosensors are used to sense the presence of metals, toxins, or pathogens
  • Biological computers, a living logical processing computer
  • Space exploration, crops designed to grow on other planets
  • Bioprinting organs, creating a human organ 
  • Drug delivery, organisms or biological systems that deliver a drug to a specific area of need

How to get involved with synthetic biology

Not already running your own lab? There are a number of ways to get involved. Your first step should be to learn more.

  • Take courses
  • Read academic peer-reviewed articles
  • Watch webinars
  • Go to events
  • Work at a company
  • Start your own synthetic biology start-up.

Synthetic biology startup accelerator (such as Forest City Synbio) offer a space to use lab equipment. Complete in an iGEM competition (link), stands for International Genetically Engineered Machine which is a non-profit that runs synthetic biology competitions. 

You might be asking, but what does synthetic biology project look like? Here are two examples. Pembient (link) creates rhino horns from genetically engineered yeast. Cemvita (link) does carbon capture, heavy metal bioremediation, and biomining.

Lab automation

Transforming organisms takes time and you might not know if you were successful until months later. Lab automation can speed up basic tasks like PCR setup or DNA extraction (unless you have superhero fast hands), while reducing human error and contamination.

Aurora manufactures lab automation equipment. VERSA is our line of automated liquid handlers.  

What process can be automated with a VERSA?

  • DNA/RNA extraction
  • NGS library preparation 
  • PCR plate setup 
  • Liquid transfer 
  • Peptides, DNA and Cell Microarray spotter
  • Liquid-Liquid Extraction (LLE)
  • Solid Phase Extraction (SPE)
  • Vial filling

Have an idea of how VERSA could be integrated into your synthetic biology lab? Take a look at the VERSA system 

DNA/RNA extraction

Our nucleic acid extraction process has high through put. Get fast high quality DNA/RNA, while reducing human error and contamination. Our Magnetic Beads Vortex ensures homogeneous magnetic bead suspension and distribution to maximize DNA yields. You can process 1-96 samples per run.


Next-Generation Sequencing Library Preparation and Practices

Next-generation sequencing (NGS) applies many of the same techniques and methods as the Sanger sequencing method, but NGS utilizes modern technology to expedite the DNA sequencing process, which increases accuracy, throughput, and speed. Next-generation sequencing is a complex process. First, it requires DNA fragments for sequencing to be collected through a process called library preparation.


Automated PCR Reaction Setup Workstation


Peptides, DNA and Cell Microarray spotter

This microarray spotter has a special nano-pipettor head, which allows for better distribution of reagents.


Dreaming about how you can automate your lab?

Click the button below to learn more about the VERSA series.  


Synthetic Biology using a Aurora Biomed VERSA automated liquid handler. Genetic background with robotic liquid handler in the bottom right corner. Image created by William Vincent-Killian


Synthetic Biology Automation Summary

Synthetic biology is a fast-growing field that can solve a lot of the world’s largest problems. Automated liquid handlers are often used in labs to streamline process and to get more done, while reducing human error and contamination. Aurora creates automated liquid handling, helping to automate processes in the lab.