Tuesday, February 16, 2010


We got the HyperCyt robotic FACS loader almost six weeks ago (wow, time flies when you are busy), and after some delays we are finally starting to see it getting into working conditions. The last few weeks David and Ariel (from Merkel Technologies) came several times to install the various components and checked the software installation. They also replaced the old Mac computer that runs the FACS with a newer G5 machine.

So, why I am writing about this today? Because, today was the first "wet test" for the HyperCyt. Ariel (ours, not Merkel Tech's, this is very confusing) and Ayelet seeded two strains of yeast for overnight growth. In the morning they organized them on a 96-well plate.

We then moved to the HyperCyt. The machine consists of a shaker on which we put the plate, a robotic arm that moves a sample needle in three degrees of freedom (X-Y and up/down), and a peristatic pump.


The idea is that we can in a fast succession sample successive wells on the plate. First, however, we need to program the control procedure to define which wells to sample.

Then, we can run the program and see the needle go from one well to the next.

You can see the needle going into each well in a succession. During the interval between wells the pump sucks an air bubble, which sepereate the samples from the previous well to the next one. Moreover, at the end of the row it goes to a wash station and shakes the plate to resuspend the cells. We can program the HyperCyt for different schedule of sampling, speed of the pump,  needle washing schedule, shaking schedule, and so on.

The test was the first step to get this system working. We are still missing a clean interface for connecting the cable into the FACS and for seemless integration between the HyperCyt controller and the FACS controller. However, the first test shows that the system does work and allow us to measure on the FACS the cells from multiple wells.

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