Funded Projects

Automated Tele-Micromanipulator Cell Injection System

Principal Investigator’s Organization (PIO):
SEECS-NUST
Principal Investigator (PI):
Dr. Osman Hassan
Project Details:
Start Date 05-Sep-2016
Duration 30 Months
Budget Rs.38,524,712
Status On Going Project
Progress Report View Progress Report
Publications N/A
Thematic Area Health
Project Website http://mci.seecs.nust.
Executive Summary

A cell microinjection system is a widely used tool in the domain of cell biology and it allows delivering a specific amount of substance into a cell using a fine tipped needle (or a microinjection pipette) under the observation of a microscope. Cell microinjection systems are widely used for delivering drugs to a single cell for the treatment of diseases, like Cancer, Alzheimer’s, Sickle cell anemia and Cystic fibrosis etc., developing organs, like heart, lungs and kidney, and in-vitro fertilization (commonly known as test tube babies). The cost of most commercially available microinjection systems is in the range of hundreds of thousands of dollars, which makes their purchase and usage in developing countries like Pakistan very rare. This is one of the biggest reasons for the limited amount of research done in the areas of cell biology, Genetic engineering, transgenetics and cloning, in the developing nations. As a first step towards overcoming this limitation, the team of the proposed project has developed a manual microinjection system, which can be manipulated by humans using various knobs under the microscope to perform cell injections. However, the manual nature of analysis makes the injection process very time consuming and error-prone. The project has three main development objectives: (i) Develop a virtual reality simulator along with a joystick like manipulator for training scientists to use the already developed manual microinjection system. This training is expected to lower the human-error rates in the cell injection process and thus would make the already developed system, which costs less than 100$, a feasible option for many scientists in Pakistan and other developing nations. (ii) Next objective is to upgrade the manual cell injection system to a semi-automatic cell injection system, where the operator of the system can view the cells on his computer screen and perform the injection process via a joystick like manipulator, which is in turn controlling motors to perform the actual cell injection. This system increases the reliability of the process and also makes the whole procedure more comfortable for the operator. (iii) Third objective is to capitalize on the strong broadband connection system in Pakistan and provide remote access to the microinjection system. This way, remote users just require the manipulator of the system and our software and then can perform their experiments at a central lab, where the real microinjection system is available. This kind of access would provide a very economical way of conducting state-of-the-art research to the molecular biology scientists of Pakistan. Besides the above-mentioned development objectives, it is planned to investigate the usage of formal methods, i.e., a computer-based mathematical analysis approach for analyzing the functional correctness and performance aspects of the proposed cell microinjection systems. In this context, it is planned to use the two main stream formal methods, i.e., theorem proving and model checking to analyze the most safety-critical aspects of the hardware and software components of the proposed system.