BioStation Combines Incubator and Inverted Microscope in one Compact Unit
Product News Aug 01, 2007
New ‘hands-free’ approach to managing, observing and recording cells in culture. A completely integrated hands-off system for managing, observing and recording the growth of cells in culture has been launched by Nikon Instruments.
By combining the environmental control capabilities of a high-performance CO2 incubator with the advanced optics needed for drift-free, live-cell imaging, the BioStation CT removes entirely the need for culture dishes to be transported from one location to another for observation.
The ability to avoid fluctuations in temperature, humidity and gas concentration associated with the movement of cell cultures from an incubator to a microscope will make the BioStation CT of interest to everyone working in: regenerative medicine; toxicology; drug discovery; and biologically-based drug production.
Constantly maintaining an optimum environment should improve the consistency of cell growth and reduce the variability of experimental data. Research indicates that even subtle variations can induce epigenetic changes in the karotype, which could be a problem in stem cell research. Furthermore, the hands-off approach exemplified by the BioStation reduces the scope for contamination.
This hands-off concept also extends to the BioStation IM, a bench-top version of the BioStation CT, designed specifically for single-user, single experiment, time-lapse recording of cells in culture. As in its multi-user, multi-experiment stable mate, the optical system of the BioStation IM has a special anti-drift design that ensures images are always kept in sharp focus.
With both systems, cultures can be imaged at both the macro and the micro level, from 2x to 40x magnification (CT) or 10x to 80 (IM) under phase contrast, using special lenses that provide the highest possible contrast with the least amount of ‘halo’ for clear viewing of cellular organelles. It is also possible to observe the cells under epi-fluorescence illumination on both models.
BioStation IM comes in two versions, one with a long working distance lens to work with plastic petri dishes and another with a high numerical aperture lens to get the best results with thin bottom glass petri dishes.
The macro ‘bird’s-eye’ view function on the BioStation CT allows users to see the entire vessel and detect pH-dependent colour changes and signs of contamination. Viewing is via an integrated, digital camera, with images being made available via an internal server within the CT or an external computer linked to the IM.
As standard, the BioStation CT has the capability of handling culture flasks, dishes and well plates. When the cells need to be observed, vessels are automatically retrieved from the storage area and transferred to the integral microscope stage. This robotic transfer is virtually vibration-free, thereby avoiding disturbing the cells in culture. Temperature, humidity and CO2 levels are constantly recorded and can be integrated with image data to produce an audit trail for GLP and GMP.
To maintain the hands-off concept, all interaction with the BioStation CT is via a simple touch screen. This removes the risk of contamination from researcher to culture and vice versa. However, a PC interface is also provided for remote operation of both models.