HepatoSite Blog
  • 7 Reasons to attend the Quasi Vivo® two-day training workshop

    Expand Your Skillset sign with clouds and sky backgroundWe are nearly a fortnight away from the Quasi Vivo® workshop. Time is running out for your chance to access a wealth of information about the fluidic cell culture system.

    Need a way to convince your organization to cover your registration fee and travel expenses for the Quasi Vivo® workshop? Here is a list of 7 reasons why you should attend the Quasi Vivo® workshop.

    1. Knowledge

    Expand your knowledge and learn about the latest developments in 2D and 3D fluidic cell culture technology and applications. The Quasi Vivo® two-day training workshop will offer multiple lectures and discussions to deliver a current and relevant understanding of the system’s research possibilities.

    1. Networking

    “Networking” is a term heard so often that the implicit value of the activity is easily overlooked. The Quasi Vivo® workshop has a limited number of openings, which will facilitate the organic exchange of ideas and the development or reinforcement of professional relationships.

    1. Trends in Cell Culture

    The training will emphasize current trends in the use of cell culture experiments. This will give participants a deeper understanding of the direction in which cell culture studies are headed and position them as leaders in the understanding of the technology.

    1. Find Solutions for Your Research Needs

    The training workshop will provide researchers the opportunity to demo the Quasi Vivo® and complete a two-day cell culture experiment. The hands-on experience combined with insights gained from lectures will give participants an understanding of how they can achieve more physiologically relevant results from their studies.

    1. Make Yourself More Valuable

    The Quasi Vivo® workshop will equip participants with knowledge of cell culture systems that can be applied in multiple ways. This increased experience and knowledge will only position you as a more informed and valuable asset to your organization.

    1. Value

    Your Quasi Vivo® workshop registration includes all materials used in the product demonstration, lectures, in-depth discussions, access to industry experts, and lunch and breakfast on both days. In an effort to help researchers integrate the system into their studies, all participants will receive a 50% discount on Quasi Vivo® starter kits and 30% off of  a bundle.

    1. Get to know Research Triangle Park and the surrounding cities

    Our headquarters is located in the heart of Research Triangle Park, NC, among over 200 pharmaceutical, biotech, research, and technology companies in the 7,000 acre area. We are just 25 minutes west of Downtown Raleigh and we are surrounded by shopping areas, diverse cuisine, and exciting entertainment. For more information about Research Triangle Park visit http://www.rtp.org/.

    The workshop will take place on Thursday, February 25th and Friday, February 26th at 6 Davis Drive, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709. Register for the workshop today!

  • 13 things to know about Quasi Vivo® Systems

    QV products in sterile hoodLast month, we announced that we are the exclusive distributors of the Quasi Vivo® cell culture flow systems in the US and Canada. In this blog post, we would like to address common questions regarding the set-up, maintenance, and applications of the flexible research tool.

    1. You can optimize the flow rate for a specific cell type.

    Use the guidelines we have given in the Quasi Vivo® User Manual to find a range of possible flow rates.  Set up the system and compare the viability of cells cultured for 24 hours (or some other appropriate time scale for your cell type) at each flow rate in this range.  Cells can be transferred from the chambers into a 24 well plate and assays may be performed to assess viability.  The flow rate which produced the highest viability compared to the other flow rates and the static control should be used.

    1. The system is relatively easy to use.

    The system is provided as a modular kit that can be connected in any configuration that you choose, to allow a variety of experiments to be devised. For more details on how to set up a system, please consult the user manual included with each Quasi Vivo® kit (also available here). To supplement these documents, attend our upcoming two-day training workshop on February 25-26, 2016.

    1. QV500 and QV600 chambers may be used more than once.

    QV500 and QV600 chambers can be autoclaved up to 3 times. QV900 chambers cannot be autoclaved and are not recommended for reuse. For reservoir bottles and tubing, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Some tubing cannot be autoclaved so sterilize with 70% alcohol if needed.

    1. The system design discourages detached cells from re-attaching elsewhere.

    The silicone used in the system discourages cells from attaching, so even if cells are dislodged by flow, they will not attach elsewhere in the system.

    1. The system is designed for recirculating media.

    The system is designed for recirculating media, and we recommend this setup for most applications. Recirculation allows cells to condition the medium with growth factors and signaling molecules, and therefore improves growth, viability, and the system’s ability to model the in vivo environment. However, the Quasi Vivo® system can be made into single pass if required.

    1. Quasi Vivo® is suitable for Western blot (protein immunoblot).

    This would depend on the protein to be studied. A typical basic system would consist of 2 chambers, each containing between 250K-300K cells depending on cell types. Highly-expressed proteins such as those in ribosomes should be detectable, but for proteins with lower expression, more chambers may be required.

    1. Quasi Vivo® may be used to perform enzymatic studies.

    The system is designed for enzymatic studies. Although, the quantity of cell material needed will depend on the nature of the study, the enzyme, and its relative expression.

    1. Even if gene regulation is unaffected by flow, the cell culture will benefit.

    So far, the focus of gene study has been on a small number of important genes in hepatocytes, all of which were found to be upregulated under flow compared to static.

    There may be some genes whose regulation is unaffected by the presence of flow, but the cell and culture as a whole will benefit from both the nutrients being refreshed and toxins/metabolic products taken away.

    1. Pumps may be used inside or outside of an incubator.

    It can be either; this will depend on investigator preference as well as the specifications of the pump model used.  According to our users, the inside/outside split is about 50:50.  We can make recommendations for pumps that will work in humid or non-humid incubators if needed.

    1. Six chambers may be connected to one reservoir bottle.

    Up to six chambers can be connected to a single 30 mL reservoir bottle. At the time of printing, the maximum number of chambers used in an experiment, in multiple circuits, was 32.

    1. The system may be used to represent the interaction of various organs.

    Cells from different tissues can be cultured separately and connected together, to model organ interaction.

    1. The system enables cells to be cultured for a comparatively extended period of time.

    Hepatocytes have been cultured for a month and have retained their phenotype and CYP gene expression. The length of the experiment can be varied from 1 to 3 day experiments, to week or month-long studies and potentially longer.

    1. The Quasi Vivo® system has a variety of experimental uses.

    The Quasi Vivo® system is highly flexible, and can be configured for a wide range of experimental designs.  Different chamber models can also be connected, to model interactions between cell types in different environments.

    Contact our experts for more information.  Also, for an in-depth introduction to Quasi Vivo®, register for our two-day training workshop.

  • “Children are not just small adults.” Land O’ Lakes Conference Presentation Explores the Effects of Age on Enzymatic Reactions

    I had the great pleasure of sitting in on an amazing session at the 18th Annual Land O’Lakes Conference on Drug Metabolism/Applied Pharmacokinetics  held in late September at the University of Wisconsin-Madison regarding the role age plays in the liver metabolic process.  I was really struck by not only how different the liver processes drugs in the neonatal period compared to adults, but by how few models there are to address it.

    There are no good animal models that directly mimic the maturation of the human liver.  As many drugs are not directly tested in pediatric populations during clinical trials, the default is to either scale dose by body weight or body surface. This group of researchers has tackled the problem from a pharmacokinetic modeling perspective using drug enzyme and transporter ontologies coupled with current methods of scaling.

    Several articles from a recent issue of  Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics with children as the subject theme was cited as a main source for the presentation, as well as an article titled “Evaluation of child/adult pharmacokinetic differences from a database derived from the therapeutic drug literature.

    It will be exciting to see this research area develop.  

    The way biotransformation research currently views children. “Berlinghiero: Madonna and Child”  http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/worksof- art/60.173.
  • Meet Maureen Bunger, PhD: Our New Technical Sales Manager Reflects on her Past Experiences, Transitioning from Academia to Industry, and her Plans at TRL

     Maureen Bunger PhD, Technical Sales Manager at TRLMaureen Bunger PhD, Technical Sales Manager at TRL

    We recently announced the addition of Maureen Bunger, PhD to TRL as our first Technical Sales Manager. Our company is excited about the experience and insight that Dr. Bunger will add to our company, so we decided to introduce her to the world with a good old fashioned Q and A.

    What’s your education and experience background?
    I obtained a PhD in Toxicology in 2001 from University of Wisconsin Madison.  From there I did a postdoctoral fellowship at NIEHS and then joined the Biomarker Discovery Center at Research Triangle Institute (RTI) and subsequently the BRITE Institute at NCCU.  On transitioning to the commercial side, in 2012 I joined Cellular Dynamics as a business development consultant and then in 2013 joined SciKon Innovation as Director of Product Development.  My experience is predominantly bioanalytical and cell biology with an emphasis on metabolism and toxicity research and testing. In business development efforts, I have focused on creating and commercializing tools to improve success of the drug discovery pipeline.
    What prompted the initial transition from academia to industry? How has the transition gone?
    Some of the prompting was due to economic conditions in academia.  Departments wanted new hires, but simply did not have the resources.  I was handed an opportunity to put my knowledge and skills to work in the commercial domain in the exciting field of stem cell products, and I jumped at the chance.
    What do you think your past experiences will bring to your new role as Technical Sales Manager?
    I have been a “technical customer” for 20 years and I understand both the needs of the customers and the institutional forces that inform decision making.  My experience as a researcher has also turned me into a total nut about product quality, so I love having being able to get high quality products into the hands of scientists because I know that their experience with the product will be successful.
    Is there any aspect of your new role that you’re particularly excited about undertaking?
    I am excited about working with a fantastic team of like-minded individuals at TRL all motivated towards developing high quality products and getting them into the hands of people who need them.
    Do any of your personal hobbies or interests influence how you approach your job?
    I have not had personal hobbies since I started my family with twins in 2010.  I am pretty motivated to ensure their future is secure right now. Their needs keep me focused on ensuring I don’t waste time on unnecessary or non-meaningful tasks because that time is better spent reading or playing games with them.  It’s amazing how kids can make you so laser focused.
    What do you hope to learn and/or accomplish while working at TRL?
    Honestly, I look forward to learning more about the sales process and putting that to work to grow sales for TRL.  The sales process seems as much art and personality driven as anything you could learn from a book.  . I would also like to use my skills in business development to help TRL in strategic positioning for growth through partnerships and other activities that will grow the product pipeline and ultimately increase total revenues.
  • Johns Hopkins’ Study Identifies Malaria Parasite at Beginning Stages; Research May Be Key in Discovering a Vaccine

    In a June issue of PLOS ONE, researchers from the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University (JHSPH) released the results of a study describing advancements in the detection and isolation of the parasites that cause malaria in mammals, Plasmodium, during the liver stages. TRL’s own Executive Director, Matt Sherman, was listed as a contributing author on the paper, after providing key technical support for the study.

    “It was an honor collaborating with an institution as prominent as Johns Hopkins.  Dr. Jelena Levitskaya’s research is a crucial step towards understanding the mechanism of malaria infection and designing a cure.  TRL’s primary goal is to improve the human condition.  If we can contribute in any way to developing a cure for a disease that affects so many worldwide, we’re going to do it.”

    P. falciparum

    P. falciparum

    Malaria continues to be a major health problem throughout the world. According to the World Health Organization, in 2012 about 207 million new cases of malaria were reported and 627,000 subsequent deaths, primarily in Sub-Saharan African countries. There are five known human malaria parasites, Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium ovale, Plasmodium malariae, and Plasmodium knowlesi, the most fatal and the focus of the JHSPH study being Plasmodium falciparum.

    The initial stage of Plasmodium infection begins in the liver, but is difficult to detect and study due to limitations of in vitro research. The liver stage is the most targeted for the advancement of protective vaccines, yet it is the least characterized stage of the infection.

    Using TRL hepatocytes and media, the JHSPH research team was able to develop a unique method for the detection and isolation of P. falciparum exoerythrocytic forms (EEFs) through flow cytometry—a method of cell suspension and counting.  The live P. falciparum infected hepatocytes were identified and quantified in a rapid screening during the study. jhbph

    The new approach can be used to quantify the effects of antibodies, cytokines, or drugs on parasite invasion and development in vitro. This groundbreaking research may be the insight needed to find a preventative vaccine for malaria.

    Read the full paper here.

    Click here to learn more about the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.