Cell Stretching Bioreactors for Life Science Research

Our Flexcell® Systems

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Tension Systems

Flexcell Systems

Flexcell® Tension Systems are patented, computer-regulated bioreactors that apply cyclic or static strain to cells cultured in vitro. We designed Flexcell® Tension Systems to help investigators analyze biochemical changes in response to tensile load on a variety of cell culture applications, including muscle, lung, heart, vascular vessels, skin, tendon, ligament, cartilage, and bone. Our Tension Systems work with UniFlex® (Uniaxial strain) and/or BioFlex® (Equibiaxial strain) culture plates.

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Compression Systems

Flexcell Systems

Flexcell’s® Compression System regulates positive air pressure to compress tissue samples or 3D cell cultures in vitro. The FX-5000C™ Compression System compresses samples between a piston and stationary platen using our BioPress™ culture plates. It can load up to 14 lbs. of applied force. Using the FX-5000C™ Compression System, researchers can observe biochemical changes and cell signaling in vitro that mimics in vivo conditions.

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Fluid Shear Systems

Flexcell Systems

The Streamer® is a fluid shear stress device allowing users to regulate fluid shear stress to cells in culture with laminar, pulsatile, or oscillating flow. Flexcell’s® Streamer® System uses a computer-controlled peristaltic pump. Together with the Osci-Flow® Flow Controller, researchers can regulate the frequency of oscillation or pulsatile patterns based on shear stress level applied from 0-35 dynes/cm2. Flexcell’s® Fluid Shear System is designed to allow users to observe biochemical changes, cell migration and signaling under fluid shear load in vitro.

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Cellsoft™ soft substrate culture ware shown with 0.5 kPa stiffness!

Stretch More Than Your Imagination!

At Flexcell® International Corporation, we design our dynamic cell stretching bioreactors, accessories, and disposables to apply mechanical load (i.e., tension, compression, and fluid flow) to cells on 2D and 3D culture in vitro. Researchers can observe cell migration, proliferation, metabolism, gene and protein expression, cell signaling pathways, drug responses, and create 3D cell-seeded collagen constructs for tissue engineering. The cell stretching bioreactor systems, accessories, and disposables developed by Flexcell® work together to meet the needs of researchers across the globe. Whether your research requires reproducible mechanical loading with easy data collection, or you need the most optimal in vivo-like environment for in vitro cell culture, we have a cell stretching bioreactor system for you.

Flexcell® takes pride in the quality of our products and services we provide to our customers. We welcome you to our site to learn more about how you can expand your research capabilities. Our products are used in more than 1,300 laboratories worldwide and have been cited in over 4,000 research publications!

Cells Sense Soft!

Introducing our new line of soft substrate disposables! CellSoft culture ware is pre-coated in a specially formulated silicone elastomer with moduli stiffness ranges from 0.5 - 80 kPa. CellSoft™ soft substrate culture ware comes untreated or with covalently-bonded proteins to improve cell attachment. CellSoftmatches the stiffness of native tissues to the growth surface you want to use to grow and test your cell lines!

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Our Products

Our full range of tissue engineering accessories and disposables complement our cell stretching bioreactors to aid in the construction of 3D cell-seeded tissue constructs with different shape sizes.

Microscopy

Flexcell Systems

Single-well devices designed to allow the user to observe signaling responses to strain in real time on a microscope stage. The StageFlexer® is designed to strain cells in monolayer while viewing the cellular activity under a microscope. The StagePresser™ is designed to compress a single tissue sample or cell-seeded construct in 3D culture while viewing the cellular activity under a microscope. The FlexFlow™ is a parallel plate laminar flow device designed to apply fluid shear stress and/or cyclic strain to cells in culture while providing a means for viewing cell activity under a microscope in real time.

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Accessories

Flexcell Systems

Flexcell® has designed a full line of tissue engineering accessories to aid in load application, cell seeding placement plus biologicals to create hydrogel matrices and scaffolds.

Cell Seeders allow users to plate cells in the central region of the culture plates. Loading Stations help prevent undefined strain on cells. Trough Loaders are special molds for creating various shaped 3D cell-seeded gel constructs with the Tissue Train® Culture System.

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Disposables

Flexcell Systems

Our specially designed flexible bottomed 6-well and 24-well culture plates are offered in a range of protein coatings: Untreated, Amino, Collagen (Type I and IV), Elastin, Pronectin (RGD) and Laminin (YIGSR) that save the researcher time and money. The rubber membranes in our culture plates are optically clear for direct viewing of cells. BioFlex® culture plates are used with our Flexcell® Tension Systems to apply equibiaxial load. UniFlex® culture plates are used with our Flexcell® Tension Systems to apply uniaxial load. BioPress™ culture plates used with the Flexcell® Compression System to apply up to 14 lbs. of compression force.

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How Flexcell® Cell Stretching Bioreactors Work In Vitro

For more than 30 years, Flexcell® has specialized in designing, developing, and manufacturing products using unique vacuum pressure technology to stretch cells in culture. We have comprehensive knowledge of and experience with developing and manufacturing commercially-viable cell stretching solutions for researchers invested in cellular mechanics, cytomechanics, tissue engineering, drug discovery, orthopaedics, cardiovascular, and pulmonary research, to name a few.

Our unique, pneumatic cell stretching bioreactors use vacuum pressure to enhance your ability to research cellular mechanics by creating in vitro models and 3D tissue constructs within the most optimal simulated in vivo environment for cell proliferation and growth.

Using a pneumatic system of positive and negative pressures instead of a motor-driven system, allows researchers to apply sufficient strain without potential interference from electronic or magnetic fields and vibration. Our Flexcell® cell stretching bioreactors allow researchers to accommodate more growth surface area because the pneumatic vacuum system allows for equal strain across the membrane. Our specialized flexible bottom culture plates are pre-sterilized and pre-coated in a variety of covalently bonded matrix coatings and stiffnesses.

Achilles tendon construct using Tissue Train® Culture System

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Apply Mechanical Load In Vitro

Everyday movement and natural processes exert physical forces (i.e., tension, compression, or fluid shear) on cells and tissues within the body. Cells detect and respond to these mechanical stimulations via various biochemical pathways termed mechanotransduction. Understanding the various signaling mediators, proteins, genes, and other factors involved in mechanotransduction is key to developing new therapies and drugs. The field of mechanobiology studies how these physical factors impact the process of mechanotransduction at the molecular, cellular, and tissue levels.

Mechanical Loading Pathways

Mechanical load in vitro changes:

  • Cell migration
  • Cell proliferation
  • Energy metabolism
  • Signaling mediators
  • Cell-to-cell communication
  • Responses to pharmacological agents
  • Rate of protein synthesis, secretion, degradation
*Compared to cells cultured in static environment

What our customers say

“Cells were seeded on flexible silicone-bottom plates (Flexcell® Tension System) at a density of 3 × 105 cells per well. Pathologically elevated cyclic stretch increased the secretion of miR-27a, which was transferred from VSMCs to ECs via the VSMC-MPs, subsequently targeted GRK6, and induced EC proliferation. Locally decreasing miR-27a could be a novel therapeutic approach to attenuate the abnormal EC proliferation in hypertension.”

Dr. Wang, Institute of Mechanobiology & Medical Engineering, School of Life Sciences & Biotechnology, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, P.R. China

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“A Flexcell® Compression Plus system was used to enable longer-term compression of multicellular aggregates (MCAs) in custom-designed hydrogel carriers. Results show changes in the expression of genes related to epithelial-mesenchymal transition as well as altered dispersal of compressed MCAs on collagen gels.”

Dr. Klymenko, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame, USA

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“The study of fluid shear as a driving force for cell migration, i.e., "flowtaxis", and investigation of molecular mechanosensors governing such behavior (e.g., ROCK as tested in this study) may provide new and improved insights into the fundamental understanding of cell migration-based homeostasis. The flow regimens could be controlled by the peristaltic pump and the Osci-Flow device, which were governed by StreamSoft v. 4.1 software provided by Flexcell® International Corp.”

Dr. Riehl, Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, College of Engineering, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, USA

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Our Commitment to Ongoing Research

At Flexcell® International Corporation, we understand that our commitment to the highest quality products and customer service depend on our ability to take part in research and development continuously.We invite you to read more about our ongoing research and development on cell stretching bioreactors in tissue engineering, cellular mechanics, gene and protein expression, cytomechanics, drug discovery, orthopaedics, cardiovascular, and pulmonary research.