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Unveiling the Secrets of PBMC Isolation Tubes: Clinching Clinical Trial Success with the Right Tools

Image describing PBMC isolation in a tube

The quality of data received from clinical specialty testing labs is largely dependent on the integrity of the samples tested. One critical aspect of this is the proper isolation of PBMCs - peripheral blood mononuclear cells - often used in high-complexity flow cytometry research. To get the best quality results, researchers must use the most optimal tubes to isolate these cells. Three main types of tubes are commonly used: SepMate tubes, CPT tubes, and Manual Ficoll Gradient tubes. Each of these tubes has advantages and disadvantages that researchers must consider carefully. In this blog post, we will look at the pros and cons of each tube type and what you should consider before selecting one for your clinical trial.


SepMate Tubes:

SepMate tubes come in different sizes that enable researchers to isolate PBMCs from different numbers of tubes at once. These tubes work by using an inserted plastic separation technology that helps remove unwanted clumps of cells. One of the most significant advantages of these tubes is that they can be used for small to medium-sized samples with ease. The technology also separates cells significantly, making it easy to measure the concentration of cells after the separation procedure accurately. Furthermore, the tube also allows for rapid and consistent layering and easy collection of PBMCs, making it ideal for research. However, obtaining a high percentage of neutrophils is not possible, as they would be trapped below the barrier inside the tube. SepMate tubes are disposable, which makes them less financially sensible in the long run.


CPT Tubes:

CPT tubes are anticoagulant-based layered tubes that allow for the collection directly to cell separation without any additional processing. CPT tubes simplify the separation process and reduce the risk of contamination. They offer a more robust PBMC isolation process, and specific manufacturers produce four types to suit different research needs regarding testing human cells. The tubes generate high PBMC yields with high cell viability, making them an optimal option where quality is paramount. The primary disadvantage of CPT tubes is that they are quite expensive when compared to other tube types for PBMC isolation.

Manual Ficoll Gradient Separation


Manual Ficoll Gradient Tubes:

Manual Ficoll Gradient tubes require manual handling and processing, so they aren't automated. Due to this, the individual processing of Ficoll gradient tubes can cause variability in the manual layering steps, leading to variation in the final cell yield. The biggest issue with this type of isolation tube is that it takes longer to obtain the actual PBMCs than using SepMate or CPT tubes, which may create more significant delays in your research. Additionally, due to the manual nature of this type of PBMC isolation, final PBMC recovery rates are usually dependent on the experience of the researcher.


In conclusion, the right tube type will depend on your primary requirements for your research. Regardless of your choice, there is still a need to make sure you select a tube type that meets the technical requirements of your studies and delivers high-quality results. Champions Oncology has expertise in GCLP-compliant PBMC isolation using SepMate, CPT, and manual Ficoll Gradient tube types and can advise the best choice for your upcoming clinical trial.


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