A Whitley i2 Instrument Workstation and H35 HEPA Hypoxystation have recently been installed in the Institute of Cell Biology at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany. With the innovation of the Whitley Transfer Tunnel, which connects the two chambers, cancer cells can be cultured under defined oxygen levels, and cell metabolism can be measured under hypoxic conditions without exposing cells to atmospheric conditions. In addition to this, a Whitley H135 HEPA Hypoxystation houses a fluorescent microscope and allows for in vivo imaging.
Headed by Prof Dr Verena Jendrossek, the group aims to define novel approaches for a biological optimization of radiotherapy. Junior group leader, Dr Johann Matschke (pictured above), focuses on defining mechanisms of intrinsic and microenvironment-mediated resistance of tumours to chemotherapy and radiotherapy - with a special focus on metabolic adaptation induced by acute and chronic cycling hypoxia/re-oxygenation stress.
Cells are normally grown in a class II biological safety cabinet before being transferred to the Hypoxystations, although on some occasions the cells are harvested, manipulated and imaged using a Leica DMi8 Microscope inside the H135, and metabolically characterized using a Seahorse Bioanalyzer inside the i2.
The i2 and H35 HEPA workstations will allow Dr Matschke to expand his research towards real-time investigations of tumour metabolism in hypoxia. Together with Dr Florian Wirsdörfer, Dr Matschke recently started to establish appropriate methods of studying the impact of hypoxia on the phenotype, activation state and metabolic phenotype of immune cells and the resulting changes in their response to ionizing radiation.
Although the workstations primarily belong to Prof Dr Jendrossek's group, the cabinets are also shared with other researchers within the Medical Faculty through a rota booking system. The primary group consists of 20 members in total, with 3-4 researchers carrying out work in metabolism under hypoxic conditions, alongside 6-8 hypoxic cell culture researchers. Depending on the experiment, cells can be left in the Hypoxystations for anywhere up to 8 days; the researchers are particularly happy with the stability of nitrogen, the fast change in conditions, the sterility and very low maintenance of the workstations.