Plasticell launches second generation Combicult cell culture screening platform

26 Oct 2010

Plasticell has launched its second generation screening platform, the Combicult 10,000-plex screen. It is capable of rapidly screening up to ten thousand cell culture media combinations.

The company has also announced that it has won the Frost & Sullivan 2010 European Technology Innovation Award for its first generation platform. In a market survey of key competitors, CombiCult was ranked the leading technology in terms of uniqueness, impact and relevance to the industry.

CombiCult is a bead-based high-throughput screening system for fast discovery of stem cell differentiation protocols. All types of stem cells, including embryonic and adult stem cells, can be used on the platform.

 During screening, beads seeded with stem cells are shuffled randomly through differentiation media, with the consequent discovery of the best performing combinations of growth factors and chemicals.

The upgraded CombiCult system features new custom-built disposable labware for stem cell culture, allowing scientists to carry out all bead manipulations and media changes in a single device. In addition, the workflow now features integrated modules for automated bead sorting and fluorescent label deconvolution.

Novel proprietary bioinformatics software has been added for data handling and analysis. The various enhancements eliminate the need for technically skilled operators while increasing screening throughput.

Chris Mason, Professor of Regenerative Medicine at University College London commented on the performance of the new system: "Our group at UCL has beta-tested improvements to the CombiCult system and we have noted substantial increases in the speed and ease with which data is generated and analysed.

"We have used CombiCult numerous times for the rapid determination of novel and efficient protocols for ES cell differentiation. The second generation system is a remarkably powerful screening method, specifically for stem cell differentiation, which has clear advantages over both manual and automated processes."

Dr Lilian Hook, Principal Stem Cell Scientist at Plasticell, said, "We are extremely pleased with the speed and ease with which the new system has discovered and optimised new serum- and protein- free media formulations for the differentiation of various cell types. The company is currently in discussions to out-license several proprietary, high performance and GMP-compliant media discovered in this way."

Dr Yen Choo, CEO of Plasticell remarked: "We have invested significantly over the past two years in developing further enhancements to our original product offering, resulting in a higher throughput, more user-friendly CombiCult system that is no longer dependent on technically skilled operators. This will enable Plasticell to increase its work throughput in-house, as well as to export the technology off-site to clients’ research facilities.

"Whilst we already service a number of pharmaceutical and biotechnology clients, we are intent on stepping up our marketing of the new CombiCult system, with the aim of building alliances with industry partners who presently lack in-house HTS capability for the discovery of new and improved stem cell differentiation protocols."


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