Innovatis, a spin-off from the University of Applied Sciences, Bielefeld, Germany, develops, manufactures, and markets a range of instruments for automated cell counting and analysis.
According to the company, its Cedex was the first cell analyzer to automate the standard Trypan Blue method of cell counting. Cedex HiRes, the latest version, provides detailed images of a cell culture sample.
The Cedex HiRes image analysis system channels the cell suspension, which has been stained automatically, through a special flow cell that is equivalent to a standard hemacytometer. It then detects and counts all viable and dead cells, as well as differentiates them from debris and protein clumps. The 2-D image information of each individual cell is used to quantify further parameters like cell diameter or cell shape, which can be used to further determine the status of the culture.
Another innovatis product is Cellavista, which allows fully automated cellular analysis in microplates. It combines brightfield imaging with fluorescence capabilities and is applicable to many aspects of cell line development, cellular research, and drug discovery. The integrated analysis software’s flexibility allows users to focus on colonies, individual cells, or nuclei.
Innovatis hosted a “Seminar Week” in the U.K. recently to discuss key issues in cell counting and cell monitoring. Opening the meeting, Colin McGuckin, Ph.D., professor of regenerative medicine at Newcastle University, said that stem cells in cord blood could now treat more than 85 different conditions including type 1 diabetes.
Dr. McGuckin’s group processes cord blood under GMP conditions and has found cells with embryonic cell-like characteristics. So far, it has been able to generate more than 20 different types of tissue cells from cord blood, but the applicability of these is not yet certain. Dr. McGuckin believes the hepatocytes and biliary eplithelial cells generated from this program can be used to better predict toxicity.
The team is making 3-D “mini-livers” from these cells, using a specialized bioreactor derived from space research that relies on microgravity. “The best way to bring forward these cells is to use them in developing new drugs,” he added. “Stem cells are far from some clinical applications, closer for others—but they are already useful for pharma.”
Cell concentration is an important measurement, and there are many different methods of analysis, commented Professor Frank Gudermann of the University of Applied Sciences, singling out membrane integrity and functional and morphological assays.
Trypan Blue dye, which is absorbed by dead cells, is the basis of an important cell-counting technique because it allows cells to be stained selectively. There is an element of subjectivity involved, though, and it has been shown that different types of hemocytometers give different results. The approach is well accepted by the FDA, and it has been the only way of getting a viable cell count for a long time.
There are now ways of automating Trypan Blue cell counting, however, that involve image recognition. “An advantage of image recognition is that it gives more information than just the numbers,” he said. “Automation also gives more precision and accuracy.”