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Cellbox Makes Shipping Fragile Cell Lines by Air Possible

Celia Sampol
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PHC Europe will showcase a new live cell shipper dedicated to 3D cell cultures, lab-on-chips and organites at Analytica 2020 (which has been postponed to October 19-22, 2020 due to Coronavirus concerns).

The so-called “Cellbox” is similar to a normal CO2 incubator and is fully temperature and CO2 controlled. It also has a flight version enabling very fragile cell lines to be transported by plane. We talked to Arthur Goudena, Marketing Manager at PHC Europe.

MedicalExpo e-magazine: Do you intend to launch new products at Analytica 2020?

Arthur Goudena: We will exhibit equipment from our own portfolio, mainly Cryogenic and ULT freezers, refrigerators and CO2 and multigas incubators. We will also exhibit new innovative products. We recently signed a collaboration with Cellbox Solutions. They have a new product, the Cellbox, that we will exclusively distribute in Europe and Africa. It is a live cell shipper. It offers a solution to the market when you want to ship samples either over campus, from one institute to another or from one side of the road to the other.

It offers a solution where you do not have to cryopreserve or cool your samples because it is a portable incubator, meaning that your samples will be in an ideal environment when you ship them. It is very similar to a normal CO2 incubator. It is temperature and CO2-level-controlled so you can continue your incubation during shipment. That has quite a few advantages compared to cryopreservation because if you use cryopreservation you need cryopreservants which are generally toxic to cells. Additionally, if you cryopreserve, quite a significant percentage of your sample will be damaged during freezing. This doesn’t happen if you use the Cellbox.

Another advantage is that quite a large number of samples can’t even be frozen if you want to ship them because if you freeze them they will completely die or fall apart. This is the case for organites, lab-on-chips, 3D cell cultures in general, and all the very fragile cell lines.

MedicalExpo e-magazine: Is it a unique technology?

Arthur Goudena: It is a unique technology, especially because it is fully temperature and CO2 controlled and everything is also monitored in the box. So after shipment you can extract all the data so you have confirmation of the exact shipping conditions from the beginning to the end. A cool box would provide passive control of temperature only. The Cellbox is active control so it is really controlled by the electronic Cellbox itself.

Another unique aspect is that there are two versions of the Cellbox: the Cellbox Ground and the Cellbox Flight. The ground version is for shipment either by car, train or on foot. It has a CO2 source from a pressurized CO2 cylinder. Of course if you want to fly the Cellbox, you can’t have a pressurized cylinder in there because that is simply not allowed due to flight regulations. The Cellbox Flight has a different type of CO2 source. The CO2 is supplied through dry ice pellets which are nothing more than frozen CO2 that sublimates and the CO2 gas which comes from these dry ice pellets is used to control the CO2 levels in the Cellbox. This means that the Cellbox Flight can be put in an airplane and you can fly from one place to another. That is really the only product in the world that can actually do this.

MedicalExpo e-magazine: Which market are you targeting with this product?

Arthur Goudena: This is very interesting for the biotech and live science industries. We see a huge interest in Europe and the United States where these industries are big. It is also because the market is moving towards regenerative medicine and stem cell therapies. There are only a few therapies which actually hit the market in this field, but research & development and clinical trials in this field are exploding, it is really part of the future of medicine.

MedicalExpo e-magazine: Will you present other innovations at Analytica?

Arthur Goudena: In addition to the Cellbox, we will also showcase a unique packaging solution at Analytica. Because if you want to ship your cells from one place to another, it is not only important to have a good device to ship your cells and keep them under ideal conditions, it is also very important that you pack your cells in a very proper way with minimum use of media. It is also very important that the packaging solutions be CO2-gas-permeable because otherwise you will shut them off from the CO2 levels which you need to keep your cells under ideal conditions. We are working with a Japanese company called iP-Tec for packaging solutions. They have unique solutions also, which we combine to offer a complete solution for live cell shipment.

And there’s also one more product that we will showcase at Analytica. We will display cell-culture plates, made specifically for 3D cell culture. We have one unique plate that nobody else has in the world, it is a “slit-well plate.” It is a 96-well plate where you can add media from one corner of the plate and media will flow through all the wells in the plate in one go—you don’t have to do it for every individual cell.

The Cellbox Flight
The Cellbox Flight

Medical lab-on-a-chip

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