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A robotic tool to study zebrafish embryos

Studying the growth and development of embryos could be improved by using robots to perform microscopic surgeries.

In research, microsurgery is used to dissect and look at embryos to understand aspects such as birth defects, but the procedures require a lot of training and practice to get right.

However, using robotics, scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), have developed a way to overcome some of the limitations of microsurgery performed with the human hand.

The robotic tool uses a microscope (pictured) to zoom in on tissue and and the researchers were then able to target and manipulate specific areas of the zebrafish tissue to study how its body elongates during development.

Professor Selman Sakar, at EPFL, said: “Regardless of the chosen biological model system, ranging from single cells to organisms, robotics and automation can empower the scientists.”

By understanding how tissues are shaped in organisms, he said, the same processes could one day be replicated in engineered tissues in the lab.


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