Cells Need Protocol
There are many ways to use an incubator to grow cells. Many laboratories use the same incubator for many different protocols at the same time. In a perfect lab, the cells in each protocol would stay in their own incubator and nobody else would open the door after they go in. Due to logistics, though, most laboratory incubators look more like the one above.
Whose turn was it to check the water pan this week?
It is impossible to provide unbroken, optimized conditions for your cells in a shared incubator. The more an incubator is shared, the more your cells are at risk.
However, using subchambers, the same standard CO2-controlled incubator can be divided into separate spaces for separate protocols.
This has a number of important advantages:
1. Individual conditions can be established within each subchamber, including controlled oxygen conditions.
2. Multiple conditions can be housed in the same incubator, expanding parallel testing capacity.
3. Each subchamber is accessed only when necessary for that protocol, protecting the cells’ environment when the incubator is opened for work on other protocols.
4. Humidity can be individually controlled.
This reduces risks that come with shared incubators, particularly the risks with opening the incubator into room air. We will have more on the effect of room-air conditions on cells in future posts.
The ideal solution to providing unbroken environmental controls for cells, is to take that subdivided incubator and have it open not into a room at all, but right into a workspace where conditions can be matched to the individual incubator.
Here, the workspace and the incubator function together to provide unbroken conditions for the cells in each protocol. Even in a shared lab, the cells are protected.
Cytocentric incubation means that the equipment can be adjusted for the needs of the cells as dictated by individual protocol, not the other way around.