Incredible cancer drug screening process takes off with automation

This incredible process is accelerated to new levels with Labman's Vial Imaging system.
Project spotlightIndustry insightsInnovation showcase 9 min read

Katie SimpsonPublished 6th Jul 2023

Vivan Therapeutics provides personalised drug screens to cancer patients. Their process involves replicating a patient’s genetic profile and analysing the tumour network. The tumour mutations are engineered into fruit fly avatars which are used to screen thousands of drug cocktails. Labman’s Vial Imaging System has optimised this process to advance their data capture capability to an extraordinary level. Vivan Therapeutics call this platform technology the Personal Discovery Process (PDP). PDP provides individuals with treatment-driven research on an unprecedented scale.

"Currently, we are manually counting all the Control (without tumour) and Experimental (with tumour) pupae in each screening tube. This is a time-consuming process and one of the bottlenecks in our pipeline and Personal Discovery Process."
Andrea ChaiVivan Therapeutics

Labman’s Vial Imaging System is used to automate part of the screening process. Using a rotary vial holder and a line scan camera, the system captures a 360 degree image of the inside surface of the screening tube. The images are then used to train a computer vision machine learning model (Darwin by V7) to distinguish and quantify the number of pupae with and without tumour. The data can then be used to recommended drug combinations for that individual.

Labman vial imaging system being used to capture a 360 degree image of the inside surface of the screening tube containing pulpae
Vial Imaging System

The objective of the whole process is to identify which drug or drug combinations result in the highest survival rate of the fly avatar pupae, as fly avatars without drug treatment do not survive to the pupa stage… The avatar embryos, alongside wild type embryos, are then pipetted into screening tubes containing different combinations of drugs mixed with fly food. The larvae ingest the fly food-drug mixture, then grow and develop into pupae on the side of the screening tube.  Only avatars that are provided drugs that have a rescue effect will survive. Drugs that increase the survival rates of fly avatars (with tumour) will be put through a secondary ‘hit validation’ screen.

The process enables Vivan Therapeutics to evaluate up to 2,000 FDA/NICE approved drugs including non-cancer drugs, in up to half a million fruit fly avatars. It is effectively a massive clinical trial for a single patient.

Darwin by V7 identifying the number of pupae with and without tumour.
Computer Vision Machine Learning Model