• Controlling Hypoxic Conditions in Cancer Research

Laboratory Products

Controlling Hypoxic Conditions in Cancer Research

Jan 28 2008

Don Whitley Scientific’s Whitley VA500 modified atmosphere controlled workstation is being used by The University of Bradford’s Institute of Cancer Therapeutics (Bradford, UK) to identify and evaluate potential therapeutic compounds for treatment of hypoxic cells in tumours.

The hypoxic (low oxygen tension) tumour environment contains cells with particular characteristics whose main function is survival rather than reproduction. Dr Roger Phillips’ research employs cellular assays to investigate changes over a closely controlled range of oxygen tensions in response to treatment with pharmaceutical compounds designed to act selectively on hypoxic cells. Results from this laboratory have already led to two drugs entering clinical trials.

Essential to this research is the tight level of control over the gas mixture allowed by the user friendly variable atmosphere system. With carbon dioxide required to maintain culture conditions as well as low oxygen tension, the workstation also functions as a carbon dioxide incubator to maintain hypoxic conditions for longer periods. This is particularly important to ensure truly representative physiological conditions, rather than returning cells to their normal environment following treatment. Cells can be retained under hypoxic conditions during drug exposure and afterwards, allowing longer-term effects to be observed.

Targeting these cells using conventional therapies has proved problematic, as they are very resistant to anti-cancer drugs and radiotherapy. The workstation’s specialised hypoxic environment allows accurate replication of the unique biochemical pathways involved: critically important for developing biological and therapeutic understanding in the identification of new drug targets.

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