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Hypoxic chamber

Dr. Urban Emmenegger will use the hypoxic chamber for his research on antiangiogenic cancer therapy.
Dr. Urban Emmenegger will use the hypoxic chamber for his research on antiangiogenic cancer therapy.

The Ruskinn Invivo2 200 hypoxic chamber enables 0.1% incremental control of oxygen and other gases for incubating cells in hypoxia (low oxygen) or anoxia (zero oxygen) experiments. In addition to providing more precision than Sunnybrook Research Institute's (SRI's) existing hypoxic technology, the Invivo2 allows multiple simultaneous experiments through an interlock system that maintains oxygen levels during tissue culture plate changes.

Tumours are naturally hypoxic, so replicating the environment in which molecular cancer treatments are intended to work is essential for certain cancer experiments, especially antiangiogenic approaches, which target the growth of new blood vessels. "With antiangiogenic treatments, it's possible to make tumours hypoxic to the point where they start to die," says Dr. Urban Emmenegger, a clinician-scientist in SRI's discipline of biological sciences and the director of the prostate cancer bone metastasis clinic at the Odette Cancer Centre. "Conversely, hypoxia resistance is one of the challenges for antiangiogenic therapy. I'm very interested in this type of resistance, and that's why I'm interested in using this machine."

Emmenegger has found experimental results can vary considerably in hypoxic conditions, as opposed to in the ambient air of normal tissue culture. "Sometimes results are reversed or more pronounced. Certain types of cell death might be modified, and some drugs are more active," he says. Other MCB investigators will use the system to examine the impact of hypoxia on immune reactions in tumours and to limit stem cell differentiation. The $40,000 workstation, funded by SRI, has been up and running in S2 13 (S wing, second floor) since the end of 2008.