Join the club for FREE to access the whole archive and other member benefits.

Ageing-related drug screening made easy and reproducible with automated tech


Key points from article :

The early-stage development of many age-targeting compounds involves studies of their effects on the lifespan of the worm model. 

This exercise in Caenorhabditis elegans is time-consuming and only produces data on one endpoint – lifespan.

Durham University associate professors David Weinkove and Chris Saunter invented an automated technology.

It measures the movement in many large populations of worms simultaneously with a camera on each petri dish.

Crucially, this captures information about how worms’ health declines as they age – their healthspan.

Weinkove said, “The screen was such a lot of work it made me think we’ve got to be able to do this faster and in a less manual way.” 

He added, “And we’ve done it in a relatively low-tech way, using Raspberry Pi computers and an array of small cameras. Thereby, we keep it very simple, no moving parts.”

It addresses the risk of operator variability associated with a manual approach, which reduces reproducibility of results.

The company aims to add at least another 200 cameras to make things more scalable so we can do more studies faster.

Camera on each petri dish captures healthspan of many worms simultaneously

Mentioned in this article:

Click on resource name for more details.

Chris Saunter

Director at Magnitude Biosciences, High speed imaging

David Weinkove

CEO at Magnitude Biosciences and Associate Professor at Durham University

Magnitude Biosciences

Biotechnology company that combines experience in ageing research, the nematode C. elegans and automation