5 REASONS TO ADD FLOW TO YOUR RESEARCH
There is a growing trend towards advanced in vitro cell culture, improving traditional cell culture with fluid flow, 3D matrices or even both.
Almost all cell cultures benefit from the addition of fluid flow, as the steady supply of oxygen and nutrients stimulates cells and increases their activity. A dynamic model mimics the interstitial fluid flow that passes over all cells in the human body, thus providing them with a more physiologically-relevant environment and leading to more human-relevant results.
1. DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY!
The vast majority of in vitro research is still conducted under static conditions, meaning there are many avenues of research not yet investigated using fluid flow. Even very low flow rates can cause widespread changes in gene and protein expression in multiple cell types (Vinci et al. 2011; Nithiananthan et al. 2016).
The potential for research advances using dynamic cell culture is huge, from simple investigations into the effect of flow versus static in different cell types, to more complex co-culture models and in depth disease modelling. Approaching things differently to others has many benefits, (too many to list right now) including future career progression and increase success rates with grant applications.
So, are you a researcher who believes in pushing the boundaries of science? If yes, fluid flow is a perfect match for you.
2. THAT’S FUNNY…
The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ but ‘That’s funny…’ Isaac Asimov
Published examples demonstrate that adding flow to an experiment can completely change the expected outcomes, some of which have been routinely accepted for some time! Flow is an important factor in cell culture experiments, yet the area is still in its infancy and the impact of flow on most cell types has not yet been investigated.
Dr Simon Whawell, Reader in Oral Biosciences at the University of Sheffield, found that culturing fibroblasts in a perfusion system induced widespread changes in gene expression and differences in the levels of cytokines and other proteins, leading to unexpected downstream effects when compared with the same cells cultured in static conditions (Nithiananthan et al. 2016).
This is evidence that experiments in static are not providing physiologically accurate gene expression profiles, which has massive implications for protein expression and cell behaviour.
Furthermore, Professor Jamie Davies at the University of Edinburgh used Quasi Vivo® to test a hypothesis in the field of developmental biology, about the branching morphogenesis of epithelial cells and the division of cells into leaders and followers, or symmetry breaking.
The hypothesis stated that a build-up of inhibitor in certain regions of the cell culture slowed the advance of cells there, whereas cells exposed to lower levels of the inhibitor in other regions were able to advance. Using our perfusion system, his team demonstrated that even when all metabolites, including the inhibitor, are washed away from kidney epithelial cells in a 2D culture, the development of leaders and followers still occurred (Martin et al. 2017).
The use of high levels of flow to disprove this hypothesis means that there must be an alternative explanation for symmetry breaking in this system.
3. YOUR KIT, YOUR LAB, YOUR WAY
Unlike many other systems branding themselves as organ on a chip, microfluidics, or micro physiological systems, Quasi Vivo® is commercially available (and affordable for most academics) and used in over 70 labs worldwide.
What’s more, the system has a modular building block-like nature, meaning the same chambers can be used in multiple configurations. This is very advantageous for academic researchers as it allows you to manipulate the system set up for your experiment, rather than having to design your experiment around a fixed system.
The QV500 and QV900 chambers are suitable for submerged cell culture of a very wide range of cell types, from primary hepatocytes to fibroblasts, cardiomyocytes, and pericytes, to name a few. One Quasi Vivo® kit can be used for many different applications, even within the same department or university.
The QV600 chamber is designed for barrier models, and is suitable for both ALI and liquid-liquid interfaces, including respiratory, gut, and blood brain barrier models. The Quasi Vivo® system is connected using luer locks, meaning that different types of chambers can be linked together to create ever more complicated and relevant systemic models.
4. NO DELAY FOR TAKE OFF
Nobody enjoys the experience of getting to the airport to find out your flight has been delayed, gone are your carefully laid plans of getting to the hotel, dropping of your bags and hitting the beach all before dinner! You’ve lost some greatly valuable time!
The same can be said for some research equipment, it arrives and you get that initial excitement of the endless opportunities, but then you realise that before you can start you must read a 200 page instruction manual, and then wait 6 months for a training course – not for Quasi Vivo®.
One of the many benefits of Quasi Vivo® is that it is easy to use, or so our users say – see video!
Many users have been known to transfer their static protocols into our system with little to no support at all. For others a two day training course is more than sufficient to become an expert in Quasi Vivo® and perfusion systems.
If we don’t have a training course near you any time soon, our technical team will be more than happy to deliver an in-house bespoke training session to meet your needs! What’s more our technical team will always be on hand should you need further support at any time.
5. YOU DON’T NEED DEEP POCKETS
There is a common miss-conception amongst both academic and industry researchers that fluidic systems are either not yet commercially available or are overly expensive and therefore out of reach.
However, this needn’t be the case, getting with Quasi Vivo® is very cost effective, with less than £1000 needed to purchase enough kit and accessories for most experiments (providing you have an appropriate pump). Many of our academic users manage to find money from slush funds, final year project budgets, and left over grants to start using dynamic flow in their laboratory before using the initial data generated to support grant applications for their next purchase.
Despite a general acceptance amongst the academic research community that fluid flow offers a significantly more human relevant research environment, this new technology is still yet to be routinely adopted in labs.
So what are the barriers stopping this? We’ll delve more into in the near future, but for now here’s a few of more most prominent thoughts… Is it many researcher’s reluctance to change their existing way of working? Is it a miss-conception that fluid systems are not yet commercially available and/or expensive and difficult to use? Or is it simply a lack of general awareness?
Commercially available and used in 70+ labs worldwide, getting started is easy and cost effective
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