Biomedical Sciences Research Institute

Cell Technologies Unit

Academic Coordinator: Dr Declan McKenna
Tel: +44 (0)28 7012 3541
Email: dj.mckenna@ulster.ac.uk

The Cell Technologies Unit manages specialist equipment and laboratories for technologies involving the use and storage of mammalian cells and tissues.

Specialized equipment/technologies include:

Patch Clamp To record neuronal activity and neuron reconstruction. This facility is equipped with a specific confocal microscope to aid the analysis of neuronal activity in the slice (in vitro) which is recorded by the patch clamp; and a special cell filling system to label neurons, which are then analysed within our Bioimaging Facility and expertise on the reconstruction analysis of imaged neurons is provided by our Bioinformatics/Computational Biology Unit.

Window Chamber/Skin Flap Model

Uses include in vivo imaging of vasculature, neurons and plaques in mouse models of cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), using an in vivo window chamber system. Enables the visualization and quantification of various parameters of the circulation (plasma, erythrocytes and leukocytes) labelled with fluorescent dyes in real-time. A diversity of cell types can be labelled, such as endothelium, grafted tissue (pre-labelled tumour cells) or specific cell markers (e.g. macrophages), enabling individual cell behaviour to be monitored in real time. The technique can be used to quantify physiological parameters of the vasculature such as flow, erythrocyte and leukocyte velocity and flux across vessel walls (useful in studies of drug kinetics in vivo). We are experienced in studies involving tissue regeneration in the panniculus carnosus (pc) muscle as well as investigations of tumour vasculature in xentotransplanted tumours in this model. Other sites include the surface of the brain, where the interaction between vasculature and neurons can be examined in a mouse model of AD. (For further information on this item of equipment please contact Dr Christopher Mitchell, Telephone: 028 7012 4089, Email: ca.mitchell@ulster.ac.uk).

Cell & Tissue Storage

Mammalian cells and tissue are stored and maintained using a barcoded computerized system that adheres to the requirements of the Human Tissue Act (HTA).

This Unit also has access to the following standardized laboratory equipment:

- Pressure fed Vapour Phase Cryo Storage System with capacity for up to 22,000 samples
- Thirty -80° freezer units in a temperature controlled environment storing up to 1.2 million samples. Item tracker labelling and traceability software; AAW WebReact Temperature Monitoring System
- Mammalian Cell Propagation: A suite of tissue culture rooms is available for specialist propagation of a diverse range of mammalian cell lines (including stem cells) under normoxic and hypoxic conditions
- Flow Cytometry: Beckman Coulter Gallios - eight colour, two laser Flow Cytometer
- Cell Radiation: Including Xray and caesium gamma sources
- Countess Automated Cell Counter: Easy, accurate cell counting without the need for a hemocytometer
- Specialist Cell Imaging: Leica TCS SP5 Confocal Microscope for multiphoton imaging
- FLEXstation microphysiometer: For measuring transmembrane potentials and intracellular calcium signalling.