Cell Services

Cell Services is a unique facility providing a repository of validated cell lines and quality control cell services to the scientists at the Crick. This is an efficient way of ensuring consistent, validated cell lines are used in research throughout the institute.

Our expertise enables the scientist to focus on their research while allowing us to work to our strength and use our skill to provide a range of cell services, which follow standard operating procedures and good practice guidelines

Our aim is to continually improve these services by investigating and introducing new techniques and adapting to current scientific trends and therefore be reactive to the changing needs of Crick scientists and, at the same time, be cost-effective.

The department is formed of four laboratories:

  • Cell laboratory that is clean and free from mycoplasma. A range of tissue culture products and services are supplied, which includes monoclonal antibody production and purification. We are able to provide Crick scientists with all their tissue culture needs as either frozen vials, growing cultures or pelleted cells - this includes large-scale production.
  • Quarantine facility where cell lines are received and cultures initiated, cells are kept in this unit until mycoplasma testing is complete.
  • Mycoplasma laboratory where testing samples and treatment of contaminated cultures occurs. A full screening service for Crick cell lines using fluorescent staining, agar culture and a sensitive PCR-based detection system, which offers an improved detection time.
  • Quality Control and Development facility that is responsible for authenticating cell lines and investigates new techniques that may offer cost and/or time savings for the department as a whole.

We continue to provide a high level of both practical and advisory support to the scientific community at the Francis Crick Institute. Our dedicated, experienced team work together to fulfil cell culture requirements, purified antibody, cell authentication and mycoplasma-screening requests. In addition, once on site at Brill Place we will provide regular tissue culture training and refresher sessions.



The Cryostore and its database, FreezerPro

In addition to the facilities mentioned, the Cell team will manage a central repository of cell lines kept in four tanks in the Cryostore at the Crick. The cell line information will be kept on a searchable, web-based database FreezerPro that is open for all to view. The database is being developed and is currently adapted for use in Cell Services. This central resource enables cell lines to be tracked and eliminates cell lines being housed around the building unnecessarily.

Preparation of cell lines for the transfer to
the Crick Institute

As we are preparing our own cell stocks for transition to the new institute, we have undertaken to grow, mycoplasma screen and validate cell lines for groups within both the LRI and NIMR laboratory sites. This follows the cell survey carried out in 2013. The project will enable the scientists to have access to pre-prepared, clean cell-line stocks and minimise 'down-time' during migration and on arrival at the Crick. To date, 550 cell lines have been processed from the LRI and 200 from the NIMR. Once the cells have been quality controlled, 10 ampoules are frozen for each line. This project is ongoing.

Mycoplasma screening developments

We have recently changed the PCR-based mycoplasma screening kit for one supplied by the ATCC. This offers the same sensitivity and reliability as before, at a much-reduced cost. This test is useful if there is a disparity between the two regular screening processes (agar culture and fluorescence) and also to provide a quicker result, usually within 24 hours, which is especially useful for people waiting to use cells in the Containment Level 2 facility. For some time we have wanted to offer mycoplasma screening for lines that are Containment Level 2. Cell Services are unable to grow these lines in the facility. Using the ATCC Mycoplasma Screening kit, we are able to test the genomic DNA (1ug) from Containment Level 2 lines to ascertain the mycoplasma status.

Ruth Peat 

020 379 60917