Microscopy under hypoxic conditions

Functional evaluation of bioactive compounds using cell-based assays is key in discovering new and improved drugs to address our societies growing medical needs. In a large number of academic and private R&D facilities around the world, high-content microscopy screening is used to complement and often outperform the conventional luminescence and fluorescence plate-reader assays. The combination of fluorescent-probe technology, modern optical microscopes and innovative functional assays allows monitoring highly dynamic events in living cells with exquisite temporal and spatial resolution.

Drug candidates and treatment regimens are commonly tested on living cells maintained at atmospheric oxygenation levels (i.e., at 21% O2) while in reality, cells in our bodies never experience such high oxygen levels. Rather, most cells experience 2-5% of O2 and cancer cells in solid tumors are generally hypoxic, i.e., they function at < 1% of O2.

At the JalinkLab we designed and built an innovative microscopy platform with fully adjustable atmospheric conditions (O2, N2, CO2). The Figure below shows a cross-section of our cylindrical hypoxia chamber in which gas conditions can be changed within minutes. The setup reaches absolute hypoxia with reliable oxygen levels below 0.5%, with the currently available commercial solutions, can reach stable oxygen levels down to 1.5%.

Aspiring collaborators are welcome to contact the JalinkLab to discuss and plan experiments using this setup for imaging under hypoxia.

This research has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 840088.