In response to the recognized need for high throughput biodosimetry methods for use after large-scale radiological events, a logical approach is complete automation of standard biodosimetric assays that are currently performed manually. The authors describe progress to date on the RABIT (Rapid Automated BIodosimetry Tool), designed to score micronuclei or γ-H2AX fluorescence in lymphocytes derived from a single drop of blood from a fingerstick. The RABIT system is designed to be completely automated, from the input of the capillary blood sample into the machine to the output of a dose estimate. Improvements in throughput are achieved through use of a single drop of blood, optimization of the biological protocols for in situ analysis in multi-well plates, implementation of robotic-plate and liquid handling, and new developments in high-speed imaging. Automating well-established bioassays represents a promising approach to high-throughput radiation biodosimetry, both because high throughputs can be achieved, but also because the time to deployment is potentially much shorter than for a new biological assay. Here the authors describe the development of each of the individual modules of the RABIT system and show preliminary data from key modules. System integration is ongoing, followed by calibration and validation.
* Center for Radiological Research, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY 10032; † Department of Mechanical Engineering, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027; ‡ Current address: Canadian Space Agency, Saint-Hubert, Quebec J3Y 8Y9, Canada.
For correspondence contact: Sally A. Amundson, Center for Radiological Research, Columbia University Medical Center, 630 West 168th Street, New York, NY 10032, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Manuscript accepted 18 April 2009)