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Automating media exchange in cell culture workflows

The challenges

At the core of all tissue culture operations are the processes involved in keeping cells healthy. Feeding and nurturing cells is a daily, repetitive chore for scientists working with any kind of mammalian cell line.  

Unfortunately, biology simply doesn’t adhere to our working days. That means constant maintenance of cells outside of normal working hours – and especially over weekends. Often, long-term experiments are designed around avoiding scientists having to work antisocial hours – compromising the effectiveness of the experiments – or labworkers are forced to work out of hours. 

This is why applying open, integrated automation to some of these standard operations is critical to unlocking the full potential of labs and freeing up scientists from low value tasks like media exchange and passaging.

Our solution: Open, integrated automation

Increase lab utilisation and experimental time 5x or greater

Applying open, integrated automation to the processes of tending to cells in most longer term cell culture experiments could increase lab utilisation and experimental time 5x or greater.

A system like this also requires some specialised tooling to complete the system:

Tilting: Replicating motions that scientists carry out naturally to remove media from larger vessels or treat cells with dissociation reagents requires mechanical operations. Our universal tilting position can be applied to liquid handling platforms to enable full media transfer and cell recovery from any kind of SBS labware.

Media: A large amount of media can be required even for small numbers of plates/flasks. Automata provides a media handling unit that keeps the media chilled until required.  It is then warmed on delivery to the platform just in time for use in a process.

Containment: Automata has partnered with clean air specialists to develop modular containment solutions from HEPA product protection to full class 2 biosafety. Openness is central to the design of the LINQ platform, so any solution will allow walk-up access to devices.

Is Automata right for my cell culture lab?

Here are a few answers to some frequently asked questions

Human or animal-derived adherent and suspension cells (although we also work with systems for bacteria and yeast culture).

Capacity is typically defined by the size of the incubators, and the systems can be expanded in a modular way to add greater capacity. The smallest unit is designed to accommodate 42 96-well plates or 34 6-well plates. The top-end capacity is mostly limited by space and system bottlenecks and will be established as part of the development process.

Yes. In the simplest form, settled suspension cells growing in 96-well plates can be handled with the addition of a centrifuge. At larger scales, shaking incubators can be integrated to facilitate the use of shaken cultures.

It is possible to build your own specific analytical capabilities around the central cell maintenance functions by adding required devices in a modular way. This can be expanded as required.

Media can be loaded in bottles or bags into a refrigerator. This means that the system can be specified to handle larger volumes of media, if required. Media is pumped to the deck of the system and warmed just in time for use.

All labware must be SBS footprint. Typical labware for this application are 96-, 48-, 24-, 6- and 1-well plates. It is also possible to run Greiner Autoflasks.

At the core of all Automata cell culture platforms is the capabilities for media exchange – the most consistent set of processes in maintaining cell lines. This can be a simple configuration for just this activity, both in and out of working hours, giving immediate support for keeping cell cultures happy.

The platform can then easily be expanded with additional capabilities as and when required to extend out the possible workflows.

Get in touch and find out how we can help your lab automate