AI Biosciences proposes to demonstrate the ability of a microgravity-compatible, compact, light-weight, and automated fluid-handling platform (FHP) that using positive displacement pipetting to manage the diverse tasks with consistent precision. This includes either simple sample transfer or complex pipetting protocols. Its primary function will enable ISS users to manage fluidic handling jobs in space. For example, it can be used to carry out DNA/RNA isolation, library prep for space sequencing, serial dilutions, immunoassay, even DNA/RNA amplification pathogen detection of space-grown vegetables. Our system has a closed system design that will minimize spills/leakages. This near-term deployable platform system also has the capability to allow change of protocol commands from the ground. This highly flexible system will allow previously complicated, labor-intensive, and time-consuming processes to be carried out by a turn-key and closed system with minimal crew-time needed. 3D printing in space will also allow different cartridges or reactions wells to be printed in space and on-demand to suit the changing needs. We have demonstrated on the ground in a laboratory setting that 3D printer can be converted to carry out fluid pipetting and high-quality DNA/RNA extraction from urine, whole blood, and saliva can be achieved via simple and reversible retrofitting of a rebuts and low-cost 3D printers. While not the key focus of this work, we have developed the use components from 3D printers to perform rapid PCR by shutting PCR tubes between heater blocks to eliminate temperature ramping which also saves energy use. Integrating pipetting and PCR can further save crew time. The ability to have a multi-function unit in-flight to carry out fluid handling and life sciences research in-flight is an attractive option in long-duration space flights.
We propose a platform for safe and automated fluid handling protocols in space. The platform can perform work such as automated sequencing library preparation and rapid PCR. This increases the usages of other ISS instrument. Our tools will enable microbial detection and monitoring; pathogen detection for space-grown vegetable, radiation exposure studies; latent infection detection/diagnostics; studies on effect of space flight on microbial gene expression and virulence.
The demands for improved healthcare at developing countries will also aid the growth of sequencing and nucleic acid testing market. There are increased demands for instrumentations in automated fluidic handling in a closed format to eliminate cross-contamination in molecular tests and sequencing. Our technology offers automated healthcare molecular diagnostics using very affordable hardware.