Roche's Cellavista System Performs Cell Analytics for a Novel Automated High Throughput Cell Culture Platform for Regenerative Medicine

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Regenerative medicine is dependent on advances in tissue engineering, biochemistry and applied bioengineering to develop and produce cells and cell-based products that regenerate or repair damaged and degenerated tissues and organs. A research team led by Dr. Ursula Graf-Hausner from the Institute of Chemistry and Biological Chemistry at Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Switzerland, has now reported in the Journal of the Association of Laboratory Automation (JALA 2011; 16:204-13), the development of an automated liquid-handling cell culture platform for isolating, expanding and characterizing human primary cells. An important component in this platform is Roche's (SIX: RO, ROG; OTCQX: RHHBY) high-throughput Cellavista Imaging System for noninvasively measuring of cell expansion and fluorescence measurement of cell quality.

Despite significant progress since the 1980s, most products in regenerative medicine today are for skin replacement and cartilage substitutes. To expand the benefits of regenerative medicine, Dr. Graf-Hausner and her team created a large-scale laboratory platform for handling a wider range of cell types. A high priority was placed that the resulting system be safe, reproducible and cost efficient, with the potential for commercial applications. Current methods used in regenerative medicine are both labor and cost intensive, underscoring the timeliness of this report.

The Cellavista Imaging System for noninvasively measuring cell expansion uses brightfield and fluorescence detection with multiwell plates, chamber slides or RoboFlasks. It is an important component in the new automated cell culture platform, that incorporates additional novel tools, featuring state-of-the-art robotics for loading and unloading the centrifuge, a programmable homogenizer, as well as clean air hood ventilation for purity level four requirements (VDI 2083) and class 1000 (US Federal Standard 209).

As reported by Dr. Graf Hausner in JALA, Roche's Cellavista System for automated imaging was incorporated into the liquid-handling robot (Tecan, Switzerland). The Cellavista Analyzer performed the automated microscopic evaluation for harvesting and reseeding human intervertebral disc cells at a density of 2000 cells/cm2 by measuring confluence directly in RoboFlasks (Corning, NY). In addition, the fluorescence analysis features of the integrated Cellavista System were used for cell culture quality control based on phenotypic characterization after immunofluorescence staining of collagen type I and II.

Human intervertebral cells were chosen to develop the new platform, because intervertebral disc degeneration is burdened by both the absence of reliable therapies and high healthcare costs. The JALA article concludes with a hope for the future for the great contribution bioengineering can make to regenerative medicine: "... only automated systems can provide safe, reproducible, effective and affordable cell-based products that are able to meet legislative needs, such as good manufacturing practice (GMP) requirements."
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