Figure 1 Automation systems can perform a wide variety of tasks covering the whole cell line development workflow

not only saving time andmoney but also helping to eliminate human error and liberating operator resources. However, caution should be exercised when

planning to automate, to ensure adequate protec- tion for cell lines, protection for operators and data handling. As well as ensuring that the best equipment is selected to complete the tasks at hand, it is also important to ensure that both the system and provider are equipped to meet safety requirements as well as being compliant with the most up-to-date standards.

Safety classifications Safety requirements are two-fold in automation systems; protection for the cell lines and protection for operators. The best way to ensure this is for workcells to meet class II requirements. So, what exactly is the difference between class

II requirements and biosafety level (BSL)-2? BSL-2 is a specification of a laboratory, which means that a system labelled as BSL-2 offers the same level of protection as if the user is performing the task on an open bench. In contrast, a workcell built in accordance to class II classification provides the same level of protection as if the scientist were working inside a biological safety cabinet – which is significantly safer for both the operator and the product.

Drug DiscoveryWorld Summer 2019

The need to protect valuable cell lines is obvious

– any sort of contamination could destroy months or even years of investment at great cost. However, operator protection is a growing concern, particu- larly for certain scenarios, and safety requirements are adapting to address this. One such scenario is if the workflow involves cells of human origin. Although cell lines should be pure, there is still a risk that various infectious agents can be carried by the cell lines that could be deleterious to human health. Another reason to be vigilant about operator

protection is transfection. There are various meth- ods to insert an identifiable segment of DNA into the genome of a cell. This can be done chemically or via electroporation, but perhaps the simplest and most popular method is using viral vectors that have been edited with CRISPR/Cas9 or an equivalent technology. The modified virus can then be used to infect the cell, delivering the desired seg- ment of DNA as it inserts its genome into the cel- lular genome. The potential problem with viral vectors is that

the most effective viruses are the ones that rapidly react to protect themselves and are therefore often highly infectious, such as Hepatitis B, HIV or the equine influenza virus. It is therefore clearly very important to protect operators against exposure to these biological agents, due to the risk of aerosol dispersion during dispensing or via a dropped plate.


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