Jadwiga Bilchak, a researcher in the Kayser Lab has been investigating disease mechanisms in fruit flies. Bilchak approached the Digital Fabrication Lab staff with a concept for a new tool to reliably measure social interactions between fruit flies. Previous tools required a series of steps to collect the flies, isolate them, introduce them to one another in a behavior chamber, and ultimately record their responses; this process offers insight on how mutations and disease pathologies can affect social behavior. Although necessary, these steps were very time-consuming, and manually examining/scoring behavioral responses opened the door to human error and bias.
This newly developed behavior chamber now allows Jadwiga to skip multiple steps (highlighted earlier) in the collection and isolation process and facilitates automatized analysis of the fly behavior.
Bilchak, with the help of the Biotech Commons team, made multiple iterations in the design. On the left is the first iteration to test the idea. The first adjustment was the chamber height as the flies would spend most of their time on the walls making it hard for the camera to capture their behavior. After reducing the height by 2mm, flies were substantially more likely to interact and perform social interactions. Even after reducing the height of the walls the flies still clung to the walls of the chamber. To overcome this issue, the Biotech Commons team printed a new prototype with round chambers and slanted walls. This allowed the camera to see the flies and detect their behaviors even when they resided on the walls. After these adjustments, the new behavior chamber is now optimal for automatic behavior analysis. Using this new chamber will dramatically decrease the amount of time needed to assess social interactions, allowing researchers to assess many more flies at a given time and reach conclusions faster.
Learn more about 3D printing at the Holman Biotech Commons. The Bollinger Digital Fabrication Lab is proud to provide complimentary objects and 3D design consultations contributing to innovation in teaching, learning, research, and clinical care at the University of Pennsylvania.
Categories: Featured 3D Print