HEXT Core Facility Project > Single Cell Analysis Core Facility
The Single Cell Analysis Unit advises and supports researchers to plan and conduct their experiments in the fields of detection and molecular analysis of single cells. As part of the Department of Tumor Biology and the University Cancer Center Hamburg (UCCH), the Core Unit provides access to the comprehensive technical know-how of the institute in the field of single cell analysis.
Research focus of the Department of Tumor Biology under the direction of Professor Pantel is the investigation of the molecular mechanisms of metastastasis, with special emphasis on the tumor cell dissemination as well as detection and analysis of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in the blood stream and disseminated tumor cells (DTCs) in the bone marrow of cancer patients.
The early detection of DTC, the so-called "dormant tumor cells" covers prognostic information and may help to assist in individual treatment choices. The investigation of CTC may be used to monitor response to adjuvant treatment after removal of the primary tumor, especially when administering targeted therapies. On the long term, the molecular analysis of disseminated and circulating tumor cells can assist in developing new treatment strategies.
Additional to the detection and characterization of circulating and disseminated tumor cells, the technical know-how and expertise in the core facility allows the isolation and analysis of cell types others than tumor cells. Within the core unit, a researcher is available to provide detailed information and advice to interested research groups.
Campus Forschung, N27
Several enrichment and detection systems are available for single cell analysis. Samples that can be processed are blood and bone marrow samples on established assays, processing of other cell suspensions can be optimized for specific scientific projects in close collaboration with the principal investigator.
For the fully automated enrichment and detection of CTCs from whole blood samples from cancer patients, the Department of Tumor Biology runs the patent-registered CellSearch-System, which allows a standardized detection of CTCs by the use of a defined panel of cell surface markers.
In addition to that, cells can be enriched by MACS (Magnetic Activated Cell Sorting), a technique based on magnetic beads linked to antibodies, and can be detected by immunocytochemistry or immunofluorescence. Furthermore, processing of samples by density gradient centrifugation without the use of specific markers is possible.
In both cases (MACS and density gradient), cells can subsequently be analyzed on the molecular level, e.g. for the detection of specific gene amplifications. For these purposes, we are equipped with a micro manipulator, which allows for the picking of single cells from a glass slide und microscopic control.
The detection of the cells can either be performed manually or by the use of an automatic scanning system, dependent on the combination of selected markers and colors for detection. We are equipped with the ACIS-system for the analysis of chromogenic detection assays or the ARIOL-system, that can be used for both fluorescent and chromogenic stainings.
The core unit for single cell analysis offers all interested researchers within the UKE scientific and technical advice in the field of single cell analysis. For the utilization of the core facility the user will be charged a fee covering the consumables. For detailed information please contact Oliver Mauermann and pay attention to the usage regulations of the facility.