The working group Automation Processes deals with the transfer of hitherto manually executed operations, cell culture systems and cell-based assays to a standardized automation process. It operates a fully automated cryobank for cryopreservation and low temperature storage of biological material, microorganisms and clinical samples up to security level S2. This cryobank serves as a mirror bank for the “European Bank for induced pluripotent Stem Cells (EBiSC)”, a project funded by the European Community for provision of standardized and induced pluripotent stem cells of high quality (iPSCs) for disease relevant stem cell research. The cryobank is subject to a certified quality assurance program controlling the storage and the expansion of stem cells according to the guidelines of DIN EN ISO 9001.
Manual cell culture processes and cell-based assays are being automated, optimized and validated. The automated production of HIV-1 pseudotype viruses is being realized, for example, in a fully automated system for cultivation of eukaryotic cells and the aliquotation of the viruses according to the guidelines for “Good Clinical Laboratory Practice” (GCLP). Other examples for the development of automated cell culture processes include the beat-coupled cell cultivation in bioreactors or the reprogramming and differentiation of iPCs.
Alongside automated cell cultivation, the transfer of cell-based assays to the automation is another focus of the working group. Examples for the successful transfer of these cell-dependent tests include neutralization assays, immunological testing procedures (e. g. ELISpot), embryonic stem cell tests and cytotoxic assays.