Researchers at the Institute of Molecular Systems Biology (IMSB), Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich, Switzerland, are using two customized Tecan Freedom EVO® 200 liquid handling workstations as part of a study to identify the specific sets of host genes that viruses depend on to infect cells.
The large-scale, genome-wide study aims to individually silence 7,000 mammalian genes using RNA interference (RNAi), and measure how each silencing affects the abilities of 11 different viruses, including influenza, herpes and SV40, to infect mammalian hosts.
The automated set-up is critical to the project, as analyzing the effects of silencing 7,000 genes on one virus requires 207 384-well plates and takes about two weeks to complete.
One Freedom EVO workstation is equipped with a Te-MO™ 384-channel pipetting head to perform all the transfection and infection assays. The second workstation has a Te-Stack™ stacker module and two fully integrated Cell-Works microscopes for automated quantification of the proportion of virus-transfected cells.
Dr Pelkmans, assistant professor at the IMSB, explained: “The project is providing valuable information about how viruses hijack endocytic pathways for host entry and, potentially, could lead to the development of novel anti-viral therapies targeted against host cellular genes instead of viral components. We have already seen some very exciting results.”