Human vs. Machine in Life Science Automation: Comparing Effectiveness of Manual and Automated 3-D Cell Culturing Processes
Authors: Ricarda Lehmanna, Kerstin Thurowa, Regina Stollb, Matthias Weippertab
Abstract: There is an ongoing shift from 2-D cell culturing to 3-D approaches, particularly because three dimensional cell cultures better simulate in vivo conditions. Thus, automation of 3-D culturing processes is a current issue in life science automation, as it is supposed to provide standard qualities and the potential of large-scaled production of 3-D tissues. In the traditional production process, human sensory-motor and evaluation skills are essential for successful 3-D cultivation. This study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of an semi-automated HeLa-cell culturing process compared to traditional manual processing. HeLa cells were manually and automatically encapsulated in alginate matrices and cultivated in media with (+P/S) and without antibiotic (-P/S). The manual steps were carried out by skilled laboratory staff. The automated procedures were performed by the Biomek® Cell Workstation. The proliferation rates and toxicities were evaluated on day 1, 14 and 35. Further, measurements of the duration of the processes and an expert interview as well as process observation of novice and expert staff have been carried out. The proliferation rates of manual produced alginate beads +P/S were significantly higher compared to the rates of the semi-automated produced beads. Average proliferation rates of the manually and semi-automatically produced alginate beads –P/S were similar on all post production days. Further, our results showed a significant increase of the cytotoxicity +P/S and –P/S from day 1 to day 35 for both types of production. On day 1, the cytotoxicity of manual produced beads was significantly higher compared to semi-automated produced beads. Particularly on day 35 toxicity of alginate beads +P/S was significantly increased compared to beads –P/S. Concluding, single process duration of the automated alginate bead production is higher and effectiveness and efficiency of the manual bead production is slightly worse compared to manual processing. However, the main benefits of automated processes are a stable quality, high reproducibility and increased absolute sample production (24/7-operation).
Keywords: life science automation (LSA), 3-D cell culturing, usability, effectiveness, human operator, human factor
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