Generous donor funding is helping scientists at Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason (BRI) accelerate breakthrough research into identifying and characterizing the immune cells that are crucial in autoimmune and allergic diseases. Donor contributions recently funded the Mantis Robot that makes the process of studying these individual cells in great detail fast, accurate and efficient.
“To better study the critical cells, we have worked hard to optimize the study of individual cells,” says Vivian Gersuk, PhD, Genomics Core Laboratory Manager. “By analyzing all the genes that are active in each cell, we can learn much more about them. We can also monitor these cells during disease progression or in response to treatment and work to better understand and improve potential therapeutics.”
Big Steps Forward Thanks to Donors
“We have already collected data on over 5,000 individual cells related to six different autoimmune and immune-mediated diseases,” explains Dr. Gersuk. “We wanted to significantly increase the number of our experiments, but the chemicals and manual handling was costly and time consuming. Fortunately, charitable donors came to our aid and we were able to purchase the new Mantis Liquid Handling Robot. It gives us far higher throughput and more reproducibility. We will also save about $300,000 annually in precious chemicals. This equipment allows us to take big steps forward in understanding the relationship between autoimmunity and the immune system’s small but vitally important cells.”
One reason BRI researchers have made so much progress in recent years is the explosion in technology. “Innovative equipment has increased precision and speed for many painstaking laboratory procedures,” says BRI President Jane Buckner, MD. “Philanthropy has become essential to support technological advances as government grants and other funding often doesn’t pay for this essential equipment. We so appreciate our generous donors who recognize the extreme importance of accelerating medical research through technology.”