Automating the way we cure diseases

About 7000 diseases currently affect humans, yet only about 500 have any treatment approved by the Food and Drug Administration (a US government agency that, among other things, regulates drugs). So if you happen to be one of the people unfortunate enough to get one of those 6500 diseases, doctors can do nothing for you.

The process of developing a new intervention is slow and expensive; the average length of time from discovery of a therapeutic target to approval of a new drug currently is about 14 years.

Right now, robots are working to solve this problem.

At the NIH Chemical Genomics Center in Rockville, Md., a state-of-the-art lab uses robots to search for new treatments. Machines work around-the-clock, testing hundreds of thousands of compounds against a variety of mostly rare diseases.

In a traditional lab, workers deliver tear-size drops of chemicals into wells on plastic plates that contain cells from patients. Scientists then look for any successful attack on the cells. Robots perform this work at the NIH lab, untiring, faster than human hands.

These robots can perform 3 million tests every week on a different disease. If a person were to perform all of these tests by hand, it would take him 8 hours a day, 7 days a week, for 12 years. To do exactly the same that this robot does in a week.

This robot is changing the way we cure diseases, and in time it could save millions of lives.


4 thoughts on “Automating the way we cure diseases

  1. This is another example of the brilliance robots can be for our society. They aren’t just a lot faster than us, but probably also a lot more accurate since humans tend to make mistakes sometime. I also find it beneficial that the people who work are in less ‘danger’ since they are in less contact with the diseases, so the risk getting self-infected with one of these is reduced. I’m curious though about the cost of this piece of high-tech since I don’t think it would be one of the cheapest.

  2. This robot is very cool. But I am wandering instead of people or semitics to made this test. The robot is doing this now. For me this really helped people to solve the problem a lot of testing. But this is automatic and cycle system to test it. If some chemistry is having the additional problem with the disease, the robot or the program cannot judge it as human beings. I mean in some special case or emergency problem. Robot cannot the same as human. So I am just wandering of the precise of this robot. But it is still looks very fantastic.

  3. It’s quiet impressed that a robot is doing a such a good job. It really helps people to fight with diseases, or in another word, robot makes people lives longer and healthier.
    But once every kind of job which is mechanically repeatable are sending to the robot. Then what will humans do? Will us just become a guy which lives very very long(hundreds of years) and do nothing?(Because robots are doing everything for us)

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