We are concerned about two disturbing trends in science today - increasing cost of conducting scientific research and confinement of research activities to small numbers of well-funded groups. We think that these trends are particularly damaging for biology, where there is still so much we don't understand and so many discoveries to be made.
We should be expanding the numbers of scientists in biology, rather than creating barriers for biological research and education. We want to enable biological research and data collection for communities of ordinary peoples (such as Public Lab), scientists, and students throughout the World!
To this end, we started a new company to design and develop innovative, user-friendly, and affordable measurement equipment for the life sciences. Our company is unique in the sense that our products allow people to either purchase ready-made units from us or simply get our blueprints for free and build our devices by themselves. We believe that such equipment will allow do-it-yourself biological research and data collection for anyone from under-funded scientists to school students to innovators at heart.
MicrobeMeter is a high-resolution photometer with continuous measurement and wireless capabilities. It allows measuring of microbial growth dynamics, as used in many disciplines of life sciences, such as molecular biology, systems biology and synthetic biology. MicrobeMeter is made using 3D-printing and open-source single-board microcontroller technologies (Arduino), combined with a purpose-built electronic circuit. MicrobeMeter shows high performance compared against commercial bench-top spectrophotometers, that are routinely used to monitor microbial growth in laboratories. Thanks to the use of Arduino and 3D-printing, we could bring down the cost of parts required to make a MicrobeMeter to around £150, whereas the latter cost more than £1000. Additionally, MicrobeMeter provides unique and useful features that allow reliable long-term continuous measurements (> 400 hours) from both aerobic and anaerobic cell cultures. The resulting high-resolution growth data provides an invaluable source for estimating key kinetic parameters for microbial physiology modelling.
This is how we measured the growth of baker's yeast using MicrobeMeter.
Importance of completing an antibiotic prescription is demonstrated using MicrobeMeter. Single administration of antibiotic doses was not sufficient to kill all the bacteria (in this example we used Escherichia coli) and it could give rise to antibiotic resistance.
We are currently providing the blueprints of MicrobeMeter through our company websites for anyone to build and develop the device for free. We also aim to further improve MicrobeMeter with functionalities that will allow it to be used in under-funded laboratories, in schools, and even in homes.
Bringing MicrobeMeter to the market will set us on a road to achieve our dream of designing and developing a full suite of innovative research equipment for biological research and data collection. We think of these equipment as humane technologies -- they are made to foster the curiosity of people and give them knowledge from conducting scientific inquiries about their environment and body. As communities of people, scientists, and students use them, our chance of understanding biology and improving the World around us will increase.