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1.  Towards ready-to-use 3-D scaffolds for regenerative medicine: adhesion-based cryopreservation of human mesenchymal stem cells attached and spread within alginate–gelatin cryogel scaffolds 
Cultivation and proliferation of stem cells in three-dimensional (3-D) scaffolds is a promising strategy for regenerative medicine. Mesenchymal stem cells with their potential to differentiate in various cell types, cryopreserved adhesion-based in fabricated scaffolds of biocompatible materials can serve as ready-to-use transplantation units for tissue repair, where pores allow a direct contact of graft cells and recipient tissue without further preparation. A successful cryopreservation of adherent cells depends on attachment and spreading processes that start directly after cell seeding. Here, we analyzed different cultivation times (0.5, 2, 24 h) prior to adhesion-based cryopreservation of human mesenchymal stem cells within alginate–gelatin cryogel scaffolds and its influence on cell viability, recovery and functionality at recovery times (0, 24, 48 h) in comparison to non-frozen control. Analysis with confocal laser scanning microscopy and scanning electron microscopy indicated that 2 h cultivation time enhanced cryopreservation success: cell number, visual cell contacts, membrane integrity, motility, as well as spreading were comparable to control. In contrast, cell number by short cultivation time (0.5 h) reduced dramatically after thawing and expanded cultivation time (24 h) decreased cell viability. Our results provide necessary information to enhance the production and to store ready-to-use transplantation units for application in bone, cartilage or skin regenerative therapy.
doi:10.1007/s10856-013-5108-x
PMCID: PMC3942626  PMID: 24297514
2.  Biocompatible Coating of Encapsulated Cells Using Ionotropic Gelation 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e73498.
The technique of immunoisolated transplantation has seen in the last twenty years improvements in biocompatibility, long term stability and methods for avoidance of fibrosis in alginate capsules. However, two major problems are not yet solved: living cellular material that is not centered in the capsule is not properly protected from the hosts’ immune system and the total transplant volume needs to be reduced. To solve these problems, we present a method for applying fully biocompatible alginate multilayers to a barium-alginate core without the use of polycations. We report on the factors that influence layer formation and stability and can therefore provide data for full adjustability of the additional layer. Although known for yeast and plant cells, this technique has not previously been demonstrated with mammalian cells or ultra-high viscous alginates. Viability of murine insulinoma cells was investigated by live-dead staining and live cell imaging, for murine Langerhans’ islets viability and insulin secretion have been measured. No hampering effects of the second alginate layer were found. This multi-layer technique therefore has great potential for clinical and in vitro use and is likely to be central in alginate matrix based immunoisolated cell therapy.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0073498
PMCID: PMC3767676  PMID: 24039964
3.  First steps towards the successful surface-based cultivation of human embryonic stem cells in hanging drop systems 
Engineering in Life Sciences  2012;12(6):584-587.
Miniaturization and parallelization of cell culture procedures are in focus of research in order to develop test platforms with low material consumption and increased standardization for toxicity and drug screenings. The cultivation in hanging drops (HDs) is a convenient and versatile tool for biological applications and represents an interesting model system for the screening applications due to its uniform shape, the advantageous gas supply, and the small volume. However, its application has so far been limited to non‐adherent and aggregate forming cells. Here, we describe for the first time the proof-of-principle regarding the adherent cultivation of human embryonic stem cells in HD. For this microcarriers were added to the droplet as dynamic cultivation surfaces resulting in a maintained pluripotency and proliferation capacity for 10 days. This enables the HD technique to be extended to the cultivation of adherence-dependent stem cells. Also, the possible automation of this method by implementation of liquid handling systems opens new possibilities for miniaturized screenings, the improvement of cultivation and differentiation conditions, and toxicity and drug development.
doi:10.1002/elsc.201100213
PMCID: PMC3588398  PMID: 23486530
Hanging drop; High-throughput screening; hESCs; Microcarrier
4.  An Automated HIV-1 Env-Pseudotyped Virus Production for Global HIV Vaccine Trials 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e51715.
Background
Infections with HIV still represent a major human health problem worldwide and a vaccine is the only long-term option to fight efficiently against this virus. Standardized assessments of HIV-specific immune responses in vaccine trials are essential for prioritizing vaccine candidates in preclinical and clinical stages of development. With respect to neutralizing antibodies, assays with HIV-1 Env-pseudotyped viruses are a high priority. To cover the increasing demands of HIV pseudoviruses, a complete cell culture and transfection automation system has been developed.
Methodology/Principal Findings
The automation system for HIV pseudovirus production comprises a modified Tecan-based Cellerity system. It covers an area of 5×3 meters and includes a robot platform, a cell counting machine, a CO2 incubator for cell cultivation and a media refrigerator. The processes for cell handling, transfection and pseudovirus production have been implemented according to manual standard operating procedures and are controlled and scheduled autonomously by the system. The system is housed in a biosafety level II cabinet that guarantees protection of personnel, environment and the product. HIV pseudovirus stocks in a scale from 140 ml to 1000 ml have been produced on the automated system. Parallel manual production of HIV pseudoviruses and comparisons (bridging assays) confirmed that the automated produced pseudoviruses were of equivalent quality as those produced manually. In addition, the automated method was fully validated according to Good Clinical Laboratory Practice (GCLP) guidelines, including the validation parameters accuracy, precision, robustness and specificity.
Conclusions
An automated HIV pseudovirus production system has been successfully established. It allows the high quality production of HIV pseudoviruses under GCLP conditions. In its present form, the installed module enables the production of 1000 ml of virus-containing cell culture supernatant per week. Thus, this novel automation facilitates standardized large-scale productions of HIV pseudoviruses for ongoing and upcoming HIV vaccine trials.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0051715
PMCID: PMC3531445  PMID: 23300558
5.  Noninvasive Quality Control of Cryopreserved Samples 
Biopreservation and Biobanking  2012;10(6):529-531.
We present a novel noninvasive technology for quality control in biobanking. We implemented a contactless optical in situ method with a remote detection unit. The method detects physical and chemical changes by emission spectroscopy. In the present study, ice formation in a vitrified sample is revealed by Raman scattering. The technology allows us to monitor sample quality during cold storage and to assess the sample state after preservation, storage, or transport without the need for thawing.
doi:10.1089/bio.2012.0011
PMCID: PMC3698688  PMID: 23840924
6.  Standardized Serum-Free Cryomedia Maintain Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cell Viability, Recovery, and Antigen-Specific T-Cell Response Compared to Fetal Calf Serum-Based Medium 
Biopreservation and Biobanking  2011;9(3):229-236.
The ability to analyze cryopreserved peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from biobanks for antigen-specific T-cell immunity is necessary to evaluate responses to immune-based therapies. Comprehensive studies have demonstrated that the quality of frozen PBMCs is critical and the maintenance of cell viability and functionality by using appropriate cryopreservation techniques is a key to the successful outcome of assays using PBMCs. Different cryomedia additives affect cell viability. The most common additive is fetal calf serum (FCS), although it is widely known that each FCS lot has to be tested before usage to prevent nonspecific stimulation of T-cells. Also, shipping of samples containing FCS is critical because of many import restrictions. Often, dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) is added as a cryoprotectant. However, DMSO concentration has to be reduced significantly because of its toxic effect on cells at room temperature. Therefore, we have developed freezing approaches to minimize cytotoxicity of cryoprotectants and maintain T-cell functionality. We compared different additives to the widely used FCS and found bovine serum albumin fraction V to be an appropriate substitute for the potentially immune-modulating FCS. We also found that DMSO concentration can be reduced by the addition of hydroxyethyl starch. Using our serum-free cryomedia, the PBMC recovery was more than 83% and the PBMC viability was more than 98%. Also, the T-cell functionality measured by enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISpot) was optimal after cryopreservation with our new cryomedia. On the basis of our experimental results, we could finally design 2 different, fully working cryomedia that are standardized, serum free, and manufactured under GMP conditions.
doi:10.1089/bio.2010.0033
PMCID: PMC3178417  PMID: 21977240
7.  The individual-cell-based cryo-chip for the cryopreservation, manipulation and observation of spatially identifiable cells. II: Functional activity of cryopreserved cells 
BMC Cell Biology  2010;11:83.
Background
The cryopreservation and thawing processes are known to induce many deleterious effects in cells and might be detrimental to several cell types. There is an inherent variability in cellular responses among cell types and within individual cells of a given population with regard to their ability to endure the freezing and thawing process. The aim of this study was to evaluate the fate of cryopreserved cells within an optical cryo apparatus, the individual-cell-based cryo-chip (i3C), by monitoring several basic cellular functional activities at the resolution of individual cells.
Results
In the present study, U937 cells underwent the freezing and thawing cycle in the i3C device. Then a panel of vital tests was performed, including the number of dead cells (PI staining), apoptotic rate (Annexin V staining), mitochondrial membrane potential (TMRM staining), cytoplasm membrane integrity and intracellular metabolism (FDA staining), as well as post-thawing cell proliferation assays. Cells that underwent the freezing - thawing cycle in i3C devices exhibited the same functional activity as control cells. Moreover, the combination of the multi-parametric analysis at a single cell resolution and the optical and biological features of the device enable an accurate determination of the functional status of individual cells and subsequent retrieval and utilization of the most valuable cells.
Conclusions
The means and methodologies described here enable the freezing and thawing of spatially identifiable cells, as well as the efficient detection of viable, specific, highly biologically active cells for future applications.
doi:10.1186/1471-2121-11-83
PMCID: PMC2987892  PMID: 20973993
8.  The individual-cell-based cryo-chip for the cryopreservation, manipulation and observation of spatially identifiable cells. I: Methodology 
BMC Cell Biology  2010;11:54.
Background
Cryopreservation is the only widely applicable method of storing vital cells for nearly unlimited periods of time. Successful cryopreservation is essential for reproductive medicine, stem cell research, cord blood storage and related biomedical areas. The methods currently used to retrieve a specific cell or a group of individual cells with specific biological properties after cryopreservation are quite complicated and inefficient.
Results
The present study suggests a new approach in cryopreservation, utilizing the Individual Cell-based Cryo-Chip (i3C). The i3C is made of materials having appropriate durability for cryopreservation conditions. The core of this approach is an array of picowells, each picowell designed to maintain an individual cell during the severe conditions of the freezing - thawing cycle and accompanying treatments. More than 97% of cells were found to retain their position in the picowells throughout the entire freezing - thawing cycle and medium exchange. Thus the comparison between pre-freezing and post-thawing data can be achieved at an individual cell resolution. The intactness of cells undergoing slow freezing and thawing, while residing in the i3C, was found to be similar to that obtained with micro-vials. However, in a fast freezing protocol, the i3C was found to be far superior.
Conclusions
The results of the present study offer new opportunities for cryopreservation. Using the present methodology, the cryopreservation of individual identifiable cells, and their observation and retrieval, at an individual cell resolution become possible for the first time. This approach facilitates the correlation between cell characteristics before and after the freezing - thawing cycle. Thus, it is expected to significantly enhance current cryopreservation procedures for successful regenerative and reproductive medicine.
doi:10.1186/1471-2121-11-54
PMCID: PMC2912820  PMID: 20609216

Results 1-8 (8)