A new smart research robot accelerates research on cancer treatments. The new robot system, reported in the journal Scientific Reports, finds optimal treatment combinations.
Today complex diseases like cancer is medically almost exclusively treated by combining several different drugs. These combinations are typically composed from drugs that show effect on their own, but do not necessarily constitute the best possible combinations. The new robot system finds optimal treatment combinations.
Instead of just combining a couple of substances at a time, the new lab robot has the ability to handle on the order of a dozen drugs simultaneously. The aim for the future is to be able to handle many more, preferably hundreds.
The next step in the development is to make the robot system more automated and smarter. The current version still involves a few manual steps that could be automated. The scientists also want to build more prior knowledge into the guiding algorithm of the robot, for example, prior knowledge about drug targets and disease pathways.
For patients with the same cancer type returning multiple times, sometimes the cancer cells develop resistance against the pharmacotherapy used. The new robot systems may also become important in the efforts to find new drug compounds that make these resistant cells sensitive again.