Delicate cultures including stem cells and primary cells are increasingly used in cell therapy research and development for applications in oncology, immunology, neurology and more. Commonly, these cells require daily manipulation, potentially exposing them to contamination. Such cells are also uniquely reactive to environmental variation. To address these challenges, we developed the Thermo Scientific™ Cell Locker™ System, a new CO2 incubator design which includes six individual transparent Cell Locker chambers. Tests show the Cell Locker System provides enhanced stability, contamination control and flexibility for isolation of labile cell types or sensitive projects in a shared incubator. Each Cell Locker chamber features dual 0.2 µm membrane filters which allow air and humidity exchange but prevent transmission of microorganisms including mycoplasmas.
Functional studies show that when one Cell Locker chamber is opened, remaining chambers in the Cell Locker System provide environmental stability for temperature, humidity, and CO2/O2 atmosphere, maintaining ideal conditions not possible in a standard incubator. Gas use and media evaporation were both reduced by 50%. Multiple clones of induced pluripotent stem cells from different donors were evaluated and found to be indistinguishable from control incubators where conditions and manipulations had previously been optimized, showing that the Cell Locker System design and materials facilitated optimal cell growth. The Cell Locker System represents a novel approach for culturing stem cells and other sensitive cultures used in cell therapy applications.