ABB robots accelerate COVID-19 vaccine development in Thailand

Thai research team enlists the help of robots to help develop a vaccine to protect against COVID-19

ABB robots are a key part of an innovative system being used to help speed the development of an effective vaccine that can be used to fight the spread of the COVID-19 virus in Thailand. Developed as part of a collaboration between the Faculty of Engineering at Thailand’s Mahidol University and the Institute of Molecular Biosciences, the AI-Immunizer system uses ABB’s IRB 1100 industrial robot and a dual arm YuMi® collaborative robot to assist with key tasks involved in vaccine testing and development.

With its seven axes and two arms, YuMi handles the complete human immune neutralization testing process, mixing and testing samples of the COVID -19 virus with different antibodies to create a vaccination formula. The effectiveness of the formula is then analyzed with an AI-enabled machine vision system.

The vaccine testing is then repeated to ensure that the formula is reliable. ABB’s IRB 1100 six-axis industrial robot completes this re-testing process, working quickly with multiple samples.

The ability of YuMi and IRB 1100 to support the repetitive testing process helps to remove the potential for human errors that could affect the efficiency and validity of the testing process, while using robots to automate these tasks as part of a closed system for aseptic processing minimizes the risk of exposing laboratory workers to the virus.

“Our Center for Vaccine Development is playing a leading role in the development of a vaccine to help protect against COVID-19 infection. However, this means not just keeping up with the demand but also taking the diversity of the genetics of this virus into account, potentially putting researchers under considerable stress. Some of this stress can be removed by using the robot to help develop a vaccine more quickly,” says Professor Dr. Narattaphol Charoenphandhu, Director of Institute of Molecular Biosciences and the Acting Assistant President for Research and Scientific Affairs, Mahidol University.

The improvements delivered by the robots will also see them being used to help develop other vaccines.

“The robots used in the AI-Immunizer can support humans in certain tasks, which will reduce infection risks to medical professionals, as well as helping streamline their workflow. The AI-Immunizer system will also help accelerate the development of a COVID-19 candidate vaccine in Thailand, while paving the way for other vaccine research and development projects in the future,” says Chamras Promptmas, an advisor to the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University.

In addition to this project, ABB will continue to support the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University, providing free technical training for its medical engineering team.

“We are proud to support the supply of robots to Mahidol university to help its researchers to find new ways of utilizing robotic automation in various projects,” says Lumboon Simakajornboon, Local Business Manager, ABB Robotics, Thailand. “Applications such as the AI-Immunizer robot system help to show how the growing capabilities of robots enable them to be increasingly be deployed in the medical sector as well as manufacturing industries.”

Founded in 1943 and originally known as the ‘University of Medical Sciences’, Mahidol University is one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in Thailand and is well-known for its Siriraj Medical School, the first medical school in Thailand.

For more information about ABB’s YuMi and IRB1100 robots, please visit www.abb.com/robotics

ABB (ABBN: SIX Swiss Ex) is a leading global technology company that energizes the transformation of society and industry to achieve a more productive, sustainable future. By connecting software to its electrification, robotics, automation and motion portfolio, ABB pushes the boundaries of technology to drive performance to new levels. With a history of excellence stretching back more than 130 years, ABB’s success is driven by about 110,000 talented employees in over 100 countries. www.abb.com

ABB Robotics & Discrete Automation is a pioneer in robotics, machine automation and digital services, providing innovative solutions for a diverse range of industries, from automotive to electronics to logistics. As one of the world’s leading robotics and machine automation suppliers, we have shipped over 400,000 robot solutions. We help our customers of all sizes to increase productivity, flexibility and simplicity and to improve output quality. We support their transition towards the connected and collaborative factory of the future. ABB Robotics & Discrete Automation employs more than 10,000 people at over 100 locations in more than 53 countries. www.abb.com/robotics


For more information please contact:
ABB Robotics Global Media Relations
Nick O’Donnell
Phone: +44 7704 294085
Email: nicholas.odonnell@gb.abb.com 

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