New facility boosts accuracy of cellular experiments

by Elizabeth Kumru, UNMC public relations | November 29, 2017

Image with caption: Christopher Collins, left, and Adam Case, Ph.D., work in the newly established Physiological Environment Research Facility (PERF) that accurately mimics a cell's home environment.

Christopher Collins, left, and Adam Case, Ph.D., work in the newly established Physiological Environment Research Facility (PERF) that accurately mimics a cell's home environment.

Just as humans require a specific mix of oxygen and nitrogen to breathe, cells in our body need their own special environment to survive.

Yet scientific experiments are not done under precise conditions conducive to cells.

Until now.

picture disc.
Christopher Collins demonstrates how the PERF works.
Adam Case, Ph.D., studies redox and metabolic biology and found that in cell cultures using a standard incubator, the oxygen biology rarely mimicked observed levels in animal or human models.

"Not all experiments can be performed in animals or humans, so my team knew it would be important to improve the quality of research we were performing in a dish," he said. "We often wonder how many failed cellular experiments could have been breakthroughs under the correct parameters."

Now Dr. Case, assistant professor of cellular and integrative physiology, offers scientists a place to successfully conduct cellular experiments under precise environmental parameters.

His newly established Physiological Environment Research Facility (PERF) is a truly unique, state-of-the-art facility where two specific pieces of equipment are combined to provide a controlled atmosphere that mimics true human physiology and delivers high quality real-time images over extended periods without ever having to disturb the cells.

Dr. Case, director, and Christopher Collins, laboratory manager, custom-ordered the HypOxystation H135 controlled environment chamber to house the IncuCyte S3 Live-Cell Analysis System, a cutting-edge cell culture microscope system capable of imaging cells in their native state and in real-time without ever having to remove them from the environmental conditions in the chamber.

The PERF is a shared facility run out of Dr. Case's laboratory in the Durham Research Center. He discusses the importance of environmental control in cell culture experiments in an article in the December issue of Free Radical Biology and Medicine, a top journal related to oxygen biology.

"This chamber and imager are the first of many steps to our ultimate goal - to move every cell culture experiment into the chamber, and to culture the cells under conditions that are relevant to that specific cell type.

"We are laying the foundation to optimize the system and compare how the growth and function of cells in our chamber differs from that of a standard incubator," he said.

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Irv Zucker
November 29, 2017 at 7:40 AM

Have great . hopes for this technology....but could invalidate . years of experiments carried out in hyperoxic conditions.