The launch of Invitrogen's Stempro EZPassage should substantially reduce the time and stress involved in dividing up cultures of human embryonic stem cell (hESC) colonies.
Since embyonic stem cells contniually self-renew and divide, they eventually outgrow the dish in which they were placed. For growth to continue, scientists must 'passage' the cell colonies to a new dish. The company claims their new disposable tool to do this is both faster than standard manual techniques and also produces more uniform results.
Passaging is commonly used to produce large numbers of cells and is often used during clonal expansion and in vaccine production laboratories.
Traditional methods for dividing up such cultures using either enzyme or manual passaging techniques are labour intensive and often result in uneven culture division.
"Passaging is a critical part of any stem cell researcher's workflow. However, the process has traditionally been painfully laborious and the results are generally less than optimal," said Joydeep Goswami, vice president for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine at Invitrogen.
"Invitrogen's STEMPRO EZPassage is a truly innovative product, one that works fast, is easy to use, produces reliable, uniform results and makes the process of growing stem cells less intimidating for those new to the field."
The new tool is ergonomically designed to reduce stress as well as being made from a cell culture-safe and inert material that facilitates the cutting of culture colonies simply by rolling the tool over the culture. This means that instead of taking 20 minutes, the passaging process can be done and dusted in just one.
In addition to increased efficiency, this time reduction also means that the cells are outside of their optimal environment in the incubator for shorter periods, with Invitrogen claiming this leads to faster cell proliferation and higher cell viability.
The recent launch of the Biostation CT by Nikon exemplifies the importance of minimising the environmental variation the cells are exposed to.
The disposable EZPassage tools are supplied ready for use and packaged individually in gamma-irradiated sleeves. By using a separate tool for each culture plate, the risk of cross contamination is dramatically reduced.
Invitrogen has released a video that advertises the frustrations of traditional passaging techniques and highlights the advantages of this new product.