Automation Is Key
One of the challenges in bringing microcarriers into research is a lack of easy-to-use systems and small volume containers. This is what the BioLevitator™ was designed to address. Codeveloped by Global Cell Solutions and Hamilton, this unit is a compact benchtop incubator and bioreactor hybrid for handling four independent, high-density 3-D cell cultures. Engineered to magnetically maneuver the GEM, it facilitates nutrient and gas exchange, providing good growth rates and relevant phenotypes, said Justice.
“It also gives us absolute control over the inoculation culture conditions,” he added.
Up to four BioLevitators can be integrated on a liquid-handling platform to create the 3-D CellHost™, which is based on Hamilton’s STAR platform, and is intended for various applications including drug discovery.
“Cell-based assays are now part of all stages of drug discovery so that cell supply has become a major bottleneck,” said Clara Cavelier, Ph.D., senior product manager, cell biology at Hamilton Robotics. “Stem cells may provide a virtually unlimited source of specialized cells to all stages of the drug discovery process, including target discovery, lead identification, and validation.”
The 3-D CellHost permits scientists to take cryopreserved cells, automatically retrieve them from an automated freezer, and automatically introduce them directly into the system, according to Dr. Felder, who says that the system combines biorepository function, cell culture, and analytical technology.
Recent research by Life and Brain demonstrates that this system facilitates human ES cell derived neural stem cell growth, supports undifferentiated cell growth, and maintains morphological characteristics, noted Dr. Cavelier, who gave a presentation on 3-D cell culture at the SBS annual conference in Lille, France, earlier this year.
“Cell culture automation eliminates variability and provides immediate and significant improvements in downstream cell-based assays, i.e., cell-based HTS,” she added. “The big hope is that stem cells will provide better models for drug discovery.”