Biorepository and cell services

Biorepository and cell services staff provide expertise, training and troubleshooting in all aspects of cell and tissue culture for CRUK CI.

The core provides a basic cell culture training course that all new starters are required to attend and which ensures that a consistently high standard of cell culture is maintained within the Institute. It also provides a comprehensive mycoplasma testing service as well as a human cell line authentication service using multiples PCR and short tandem repeat (STR) profiling to simultaneously amplify eight or more of the most informative polymorphic markers in the human genome.

The team support four Essen BioScience IncuCyte™ instruments which are compact, automated imaging platforms designed to provide kinetic, non-invasive live cell imaging. The instruments are located in a 5% CO2 incubator and acquire high definition phase contrast and fluorescent images of live, in vitro cell cultures. Custom image processing software calculates a variety of metrics, such as cell proliferation, invasion and migration assays, growth curves and optimisation of cell based assays and cell culture media components. These instruments are extensively used by research groups at the Institute.

The core is also responsible for the storage tracking and risk management of tissue samples, cell lines and other biological samples, in accordance with current legislation. To ensure full compliance with the Human Tissue Act and Human Tissue Authority (HTA) Codes of Practice it provides advice on the use, storage and disposal of human tissue samples for research, including Clinical Trials, as well as monitoring and tracking the import, storage and use of human tissue samples by the CRUK CI. It also provides help and advice in requesting human tissue samples from the Addenbrooke’s Hospital Tissue Bank and in the process of obtaining local research ethics committee approval for new research projects involving the use of human tissues.

Recent developments include:

  • Producing a breast cancer cell line tissue microarray (TMA) in collaboration with the Caldas group and the Histopathology core.
  • Introduction of a  fourth Essen Bioscience IncuCyte™ instrument which has added much needed additional capacity for these very useful automated live cell imaging platforms designed to provide kinetic, noninvasive live cell imaging.
  • Introduction of a compact cell roller bottle apparatus, giving us bulk cell culture capability.
  • Introducing a ‘Multidrop’ compact robotic liquid handling platform for use in cell culture and serum/plasma aliquoting applications.

Future objectives

  • Exploring other live cell imaging platforms and applications, with a particular interest in imaging 3D events such as spheroid growth, cell invasion, chemotaxis and angiogenesis.
  • Collaborating with the Research Instrumentation core to establish a phage display antibody library at the CRUK CI.
  • Investigating the possibility of operating an IncuCyte™ instrument in low oxygen conditions, which more closely mimic the in vivo hypoxic conditions found in many solid tumours.
  • Examining the feasibility of offering some of our current services to external Cambridge researchers.
  • Researching latest developments in cell culture methods, applications and instrumentation that might be useful to the research conducted at the CRUK CI.

Core Facility Manager