Overcoming challenging cell analysis with next-generation sample prep technology

Laminar wash technology enables researchers to perform routine, thorough, and gentle cell washes, especially for troublesome and low cell count populations.

Researchers are delivering on the promise of genomic and cell biology to cure individual cancers and correct genetic disorders at breakneck speed. Feeding this acceleration has been unprecedented advances in cellular analysis—characterizing and selecting specific cells at single-cell resolution from a plethora of often complex sample types. Experts like Sue Reynolds, Ph.D. agree that the key to getting reliable and reproducible data from these modern techniques—as any cell biologist knows—is high-quality sample preparation methods.

Upgrading from “Old Faithful”

Despite advances in characterization, the workhorse of the cell prep lab is an instrument whose roots date back to the mid-19th century, when Antonin Prandtl invented the first centrifuge for the dairy industry. The centrifuge was never really meant to operate on live cells. Imagine the stress of subjecting these precious specimens to hundreds (or thousands) of ‘g’ forces, disrupting their native states and literally shredding them apart. We don’t expect our astronauts to survive even a fraction of such torture. Yet, we routinely spaghettify our samples with the black hole-like centrifuge, introducing cellular debris that compromise data quality and ultimately reduce target cell recovery and viability.

“If your sample is compromised in any way, shape or form, in the very beginning through sample prep, no matter how good you are at setting up your interest instrument in analyzing your data, your data is going to be compromised,” says Dr. Reynolds. Proper cell washing that removes debris and unbound reagents is, thus, crucial in yielding quality data, which is “especially true when you’re using small sample volumes or you’re running high-sensitivity assays,” Dr. Reynolds adds.

The centrifuge, thus, presents researchers with a Catch-22: by compromising sample quality, the centrifuge requires additional wash cycles, further reducing cell recovery and viability. How can researchers cope with such a negative feedback loop?

Next-Generation Sample Prep

Enter Laminar Wash™ technology from Curiox Biosystems, the only solution that frees suspension cell sample prep from the burdens of the centrifuge. The technology combines engineered wall-less plates with laminar flow liquid-handling robotics, providing cell researchers with an automated, repeatable, gentle, and safe method for washing cells, leaving specimens undisturbed in their native state.

 

Evolution of cell prep

Even though centrifuges can handle multi-well plates, they are by no means high throughput, and user variability pervades (see “flicking” techniques). Centrifugation notoriously aerosolizes liquid samples, potentially exposing researchers to infectious diseases (not to mention flicking). Amidst a global pandemic, basically all human samples should be treated as potentially infectious.

Laminar Wash systems transform cell sample prep into a high throughput, single-step protocol—a bona fide “walk-away” instrument that introduces no aerosols and is easily contained in a biosafety cabinet. Most importantly, not succumbing cells to centrifugal forces can improve retention and viability, enabling researchers to characterize that rare, special cell from that rare, special donor in its actual biological state using costly and time-intensive downstream analytical methods.

“I wish this technology had been around when I was doing flow cytometry, because to be honest with you, I’m a lazy washer. And if I can get away with cutting washes or not washing, I would love it,” admits Dr. Reynolds.

Laminar Wash accomplishes complete washing while leaving the precious cells intact, freeing researchers from the relic that is the centrifuge. It truly represents a next-generation approach to enable state-of-the-art cell analysis.

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