What does the “Life Foundry” look like?The reporter visited the major scientific and technological infrastructure of Guangming Science City

What does the “Life Foundry” look like?The reporter visited the major scientific and technological infrastructure of Guangming Science City

On the first floor of the Shenzhen Brain Analysis and Brain Simulation Major Science and Technology Infrastructure, a “strong” robotic arm is precisely clamping the used animal cages, and quickly lifts and turns them over to place the cages on the cleaning table. The steps of wiping, cleaning, and disinfecting the cages have been completed accurately, and the final sprint is ready for the relevant platforms and teams to move in.

From April 27th to 28th, the Bright Science City Forum·2023 will open. The forum will hold ceremonial activities such as the settlement of major scientific and technological infrastructure. Recently, the reporter visited Shenzhen’s major scientific and technological infrastructure for synthetic biology research (hereinafter referred to as “synthetic biology facility”) and Shenzhen’s major scientific and technological infrastructure for brain analysis and brain simulation (hereinafter referred to as “brain facility”) located in Guangming Science City. The innovative code behind “Life Factory” and “Brain Universe Decoder”.

  Synthetic Biology Large Facility:

  Automated “workshops” form “life foundries”

Human industrial civilization has come to this day, and standardized assembly line production in factory workshops has been maturely used. Today, living organisms can also be produced in the manner of factory assembly lines.

In an automated functional island area on the 4th floor of the synthetic biology facility, in 11 independent “glass rooms”, robotic arms are proficiently putting multiple biological reagents and samples into microwell plates to achieve high-throughput operations. According to Si Tong, Chief Technologist of Shenzhen Synthetic Biology Research Major Science and Technology Infrastructure, every “glass room” here is a functional island area.

“The fourth floor is the synthetic yeast production line. We divide this production line into 11 processes. Each process is a functional island, just like a ‘production workshop’. Each functional island is a production line.” Si Tong told reporters. “Synthesis is only one step. There is design in front of it, and testing in the back. There may be more than 30 processes and about 4 production lines in total.” Si Tong said that such a “bio-casting factory” can convert tedious The experiment has been transformed from manual to automated, low-throughput to high-throughput, and random to standardized, which greatly shortens the experimental cycle and improves experimental efficiency.

The automation function island area on the 4th floor of the synthetic biology facility.

In addition to automation, informatization is also a major feature here. Si Tong told reporters that the docking and transmission of samples is realized by AGV robots between each production line. “Robots can shuttle between different floors, and we collect the data of each sample from design to final operation to the cloud laboratory, so that researchers can know the progress and location of samples, and we can achieve digital twin level in the future. data collection and application.”

AGV robot.

It is understood that the Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (hereinafter referred to as “Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technology”) is the leading unit for the construction of the synthetic biology facility. The large facility will build a synthetic biology research platform integrating the user’s “cloud laboratory” and the operator’s “smart laboratory”, focusing on the construction of a design learning platform, a synthetic testing platform, and a user testing platform. The reporter learned from the interview that the first batch of people stationed in large facilities is a professional technical team for the construction and operation of a synthetic test platform and a user test platform.

“The research method of synthetic biology is to reinvent and create. It is actually an engineering way of thinking.” Liu Chenli, vice president of Shenzhen Advanced Institute and director of Shenzhen Synthetic Biology Innovation Institute, revealed in an interview with reporters, At present, large facilities are being stationed and debugged, and a batch of equipment is being purchased. After being put into use, it may promote the development of “magnitude” and “geometric” of synthetic biology.

  Brain Facilities:

  Decode the “brain universe” and realize the leapfrog development of brain science research

With nearly 100 billion neurons and 100 trillion connections, the human brain is the most complex organ in the human body. What mysteries of human origin are hidden in the brain? How to intervene in advance for cognitive decline in the elderly? The brain facility located in the core start-up area of ​​Guangming Science City will take the lead in “answering” these world’s cutting-edge scientific and technological questions and decoding the mysterious “brain universe”.

Walking into the Bright Brain Science and Technology Industry Innovation Center, there are various brain map drawing images hanging on the wall. “This is the first time in the world that our team has achieved micron-level resolution three-dimensional analysis of macaque brains, and it was completed in only 100 hours. In the past, it took four to five years to draw such a map.” Shenzhen Advanced Institute of Brain Cognition and Xu Fang, an associate researcher at the Institute of Brain Diseases, said. In the brain facility not far away, automated cage cleaning tools, ultra-high-field animal magnetic resonance, etc. are “ready to go”, and are being debugged in an orderly manner, ready to “welcome” the arrival of small and large animals.

Animal cages.

“At that time, all the animals can be sent here for scanning.” A staff member in charge of animal magnetic resonance at the Brain Facility told reporters that the instrument used in his scanning room is my country’s first ultra-high-field animal magnetic resonance uMR9.4T , the system can provide good spatial resolution and tissue contrast without radiation, and can perform high-precision imaging of biological individuals, such as mice, rats, guinea pigs, rabbits, marmosets, etc., under non-invasive conditions.

The reporter learned from the scene that the entire brain facility has a total of 14 floors, including a transmission electron microscope and neuroimaging platform, a brain cell atlas platform, a non-human primate breeding area, a non-human primate brain function analysis platform, and so on. “A large part of the whole brain facility is reserved for animals, and the safety of animals is the first priority. We will also move animals in batches.” Director of the Institute of Brain Cognition and Brain Diseases, Shenzhen Advanced Institute, Wang Liping, director of the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Brain Science Innovation Institute, told reporters. During the interview, the reporter learned that the first batch of brain facilities stationed is a professional technical team based on non-human primate platform, rodent platform and imaging platform.

It is reported that the brain facility is divided into three modules for construction, including brain analysis, brain editing and brain simulation modules. The three modules respectively include several experimental platforms. While realizing the core functions of the respective modules, the modules realize the mutual support and close cooperation between the functions, and develop the ability of accurate analysis and simulation of multi-model animals in the same time and space that individual modules do not have. Scientific research, the diagnosis and treatment of brain diseases, and the development of drugs have leaped forward.

(Original title “What does the “Life Foundry” look like? The reporter visited the major scientific and technological infrastructure of Guangming Science City”)

Editor Qin Han read Wu Jianlin second trial Zhang Yujie third trial Liu Yiping