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Title: Towards the Automation of Embryonic Stem Cell Microinjections into Blastocysts
Authors: Mattos, Leonardo Serra
Advisors: Edward Grant, Committee Chair
Donald Bitzer, Committee Member
Troy Nagle, Committee Member
John Muth, Committee Member
Randy Thresher, Committee Member
Keywords: teleoperation
microrobotic system
embryo microinjection
Issue Date: 18-May-2009
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Electrical Engineering
Abstract: The purpose of the research has been to increase the consistency and efficiency rates of blastocyst microinjections through automation. The research involved the design, implementation, and evaluation of a novel biomanipulation system that is a test-bed for applying intelligent control algorithms. The microinjection process was controlled from a computer via a joystick or by software controllers. These included real-time video processing for the acquisition of experimental data and control. Teleoperated microinjections under the control of both expert and novice operators showed that the system is effective, easy to use, and capable of eliminating the need for the extensive training of microinjection personnel. Experimental results showed that all operators obtained a microinjection success rate over 80%, demonstrating a significant improvement over the tradition manual microinjections. Furthermore, blastocysts injected using this system were more likely to develop to term, and to yield chimeras, than blastocysts injected using the traditional manual method. The experiments also highlighted common problems encountered during the blastocyst microinjection stage, allowing the design and development of effective control algorithms to guide the teleoperated and automatic microinjections. Overall, this research contributed to the full automation of blastocyst microinjection by: 1) significantly improving the microinjection process; 2) significantly improving the microinjection efficiency; 3) creating a new system design optimized for computer controlled microinjections; 4) implementing and evaluating speed-up methods that enable real-time template matching; 5) creating new algorithms to identify and analyze blastocyst images; 6) designing and conducting preliminary tests with control algorithms that automate the microinjection process.
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