The Automation Solution
Automation provides a comprehensive solution to inconsistencies in manual handling, ensuring that every step of the process is performed in the same way, for the same duration, every time. In addition to improving the consistency of operations, it is possible to perform the entire culture procedure within a precisely controlled environment, avoiding fluctuation in temperature and pH.
The team at UCL has developed a fully automated stem cell cultivation platform based on a Freedom EVO® liquid-handling workstation (Tecan). This integrated system is enclosed within a specially developed Class 2 biological containment cabinet—allowing complete environmental control—and incorporates all the equipment required for fully automated stem cell culture and manipulation, including pipetting and robotic manipulator arms, a microplate centrifuge, and a CO2 incubator.
The sterile, temperature-controlled environment within the cabinet allows independent regulation of atmospheric gases during culture, particularly O2 and CO2. Conditions inside the cabinet are maintained at 37ºC, 5% CO2, and 21% O2, with no variations in temperature, CO2, or pH as plates are moved from the incubator to the deck of the instrument for processing.
This minimizes fluctuations in environmental conditions that have been shown to impact on both cell growth over multiple passages and on the ultimate differentiation into specific cell types. The entire culture operation is performed using disposable pipette tips and consumables to minimize the risks of carryover and contamination and maximize operator safety when dealing with patient-derived cells.