A visit to Eppendorf’s cell culture lab at ACHEMA

June 17, 2015
Adeline Siew, PhD

Adeline Siew is editor for Pharmaceutical Technology Europe. She is also science editor for Pharmaceutical Technology.

Experts at Eppendorf discuss common challenges in cell culture and share insights on possible solutions.

 

In cell culture, contamination of cells is a major problem. In most cases, the incubator could be the source of contamination with people opening and closing the door to put in or remove their cells. It could also be due to the outside air coming into contact with the medium and cells either from splashing or inadvertent removal of lid. “One solution to minimize the risk of contamination is to disinfect the incubator routinely,” said Jessica Wagener, PhD, field application specialist, Cell Handling, Eppendorf, at the company’s laboratory tour during the ACHEMA show. Other key pointers include filing consumables one by one and using flasks with a screw cap instead of dishes with a loose lid, for example, for maintenance of stock cultures or when frequent transportation of the cultures is required. Wagener added that Eppendorf offers solutions such as an easy to clean incubator with high temperature disinfection mode; SplashProtect ring in dishes to avoid splashes and bridging of medium with the outside environment; corrugated handling ring of cell culture dishes for safe transportation; and flasks with optimized geometry.

Another frequent problem in cell culture is the non homogenous cell growth, noted Tanja Musiol, PhD, project leader, Customer Workflows, Eppendorf. “When using multiwall plates, you often find that the distribution of cells in the edge wells is not homogenous,” explained Musiol, adding that there is higher evaporation rate in the edge wells. Temperature variations during incubation and variations in chamber atmosphere due to door opening of the incubator could also contribute to the problem. “One way to minimize this [non homogenous cell growth] is to avoid using the edge wells,” continued Musiol. And then, picking up an Eppendorf cell culture plate, Musiol showed how the peripheral moat helps minimize the edge effect. Wagener went on to highlight Eppendorf’s Galaxy CO2 incubator, which has split inner doors on each shelf to allow stable cell growth conditions.

Cell adhesion can also be non homogenous, as Musiol pointed out. “You can have variations in seeding cell numbers, or formation of air bubbles during the seeding process, which all lead to the uneven distribution of cells,” she said. A possible solution is to regularly re-suspend the cells during seeding. Manual movement of consumable after seeding can also help minimize the risk of uneven cell adhesion. Eppendorf’s Multipette and Combitips enable fast seeding operation, according to Musiol. “The dispension steps avoid air bubbles from being inserted,” she added.

Moving on to single use in cell culture, Matthias Korsten, director service and support, Bioprocess, Eppendorf, stressed that despite the benefits it offers, there can be issues related to extractables and leachables and product characteristics may be altered as a result. For this reason, it is important that extractables studies are performed to identify and quantify potentially harmful compounds. Korsten showed one of Eppendorf’s offerings, which is a single use vessel produced from monolayer injection-molded plastic. “The materials used comply with USP Class VI,” said Korsten. “These are virgin materials, which are sourced directly by Eppendorf.”

One thing you will notice at ACHEMA is that there are solutions for most of the challenges encountered in the process industry. In every hall, exhibitors are passionately talking about their innovative products, and Eppendorf is no exception. The company-guided tour runs daily in Hall 4.1, Booth D36. Visitors are invited to experience the Eppendorf lab workflow and learn about the company's product solutions for common problems in the bioprocessing/cell culture lab.