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When an incubator won't do

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Date: 2015-06-02

We perform various assays while the cells are in the workstation, to assess cell death, apoptosis, migration; there are a lot of aspects where we need to collect images over time at low oxygen. An incubator just isn’t suitable for that, because whenever the door is opened, the oxygen concentration changes dramatically and the cells will go through waves of deoxygenation and oxygenation. Even if temperature and humidity and ph changes are definitely an issue in incubators as cells are taken in and out, I think the oxygen level is really the most crucial. The continuous hypoxia we achieve in the workstation is a prerequisite for studies with hypoxia-activated drugs used in cancer therapy strategies. Incubators are only useful down to 5% oxygen at best, anything else is not a good idea.

Brad Wouters, Toronto, Canada