The project goal is to develop robots for oncology drug screening in zebrafish. Cancer is the most burdensome disease in the world with an estimated 18.1 million new cases and 9.6 million deaths in 2018. Drug candidates are assessed in living organisms late in the preclinical development process. Consequently, only 9% of oncology drugs entering phase 1 clinical trials, complete phase 3 successfully. Furthermore, 10,000 compounds are screened for each approved drug. High-throughput screening that provides biologically relevant data is needed to 1) rapidly assess the large number of compounds generated in drug discovery and 2) to increase the number of drugs that make it through clinical trials. Zebrafish injected with patient-derived tumour cells (PDX) mimic in vivo responses and could be used in the early drug screening workflow. Their small size, easy and inexpensive maintenance and abundant availability of genetic tools make zebrafish highly suitable for oncology drug screening. Consortium partners and zebrafish CRO market leaders ZeClinics (ZC) and BioReperia (BR) are experiencing strong market demand for zebrafish PDX drug screening, but are critically impeded by their current low throughput, manual, labour intensive workflow. Through deep learning image recognition, advanced robotics and automated imaging, Life Science Methods (LSM) and Confocal.nl will develop the ROBO-FISH robots that can inject 10 times faster than trained scientists and can provide high-throughput image analysis for zebrafish. The Centre for Molecular Medicine Norway (NCMM) and CROs ZC and BR will validate the robots in their expert zebrafish labs to generate feedback on performance, applicability and reproducibility. The ROBO-FISH consortium will deliver an injection robot and two types of imaging robots (high/low resolution) to create a fast, accurate, easy to use, high-throughput workflow that could revolutionize oncology drug screening.
Project leader: Camila Esguerra
Institution: UNIVERSITETET I OSLO SENTRALADMINISTRASJON