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Using Roche’s CASY Cell Counter and Analyzer for Proliferation and Viability Measurement in Cancer Studies

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In a recent study, Prokop et al. used the CASY Cell Counter and Analyzer from Roche Applied Science to identify the specific anticancer properties of a therapeutic substance in Burkitt-like lymphoma cells (BJAB cells). In addition to using the CASY system for multi-parameter quality control of the cell cultures, the team also brought the system to bear in examining apoptosis induction as early as 24 hours after treatment, i.e., before taking final measurements with Annexin-V and DNA fragmentation assays 24 h and 48 h later, respectively.

Most children suffering from acute leukemia can be cured using standardized, combined chemotherapeutics. Nevertheless, the development of drug resistance limits treatment efficacy and confronts researchers with the challenge of finding new substances that can overcome multiple drug resistance in leukemia and tumor cells.

The research group headed by Aram Prokop at the Institute for Experimental Oncology of the Children’s Hospital in Cologne, Germany, is studying new antileukemia and antitumor compounds that induce apoptosis in a wide range of human tumor cell lines and can overcome the multiple drug resistance in leukemia and tumor cells.

The group established leukemia and tumor cell lines that are resistant to the common cytostatics clinically used for treating children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). The team used various chemosensitivity assays to demonstrate the ability of newly synthesized compounds to overcome drug resistance in vitro (using drug-resistant leukemia cells) and ex vivo (using drug-resistant primary lymphoblasts from children with ALL).

The CASY Cell Counter and Analyzer improved the researchers’ workflow in important ways: besides using the CASY system for cell culture quality control, i.e., for determining cell concentration, cell viability, cell volume, cell aggregation and cell debris, they also used it for studying apoptosis induction as early as 24 hours after treatment.

This saved 24 and 48 hours, respectively, when compared to Annexin-V and DNA fragmentation assays. The CASY system accurately measures cell viability, but cannot differentiate between necrotic and apoptotic cells.

Combining CASY measurements with the LDH release assay (for early exclusion of nonspecific necrosis) clearly showed a correlation between decreasing cell proliferation, decreasing cell viability and the induction of apoptosis.