Frequently asked questions


How does this technology work?

All instruments acquire cell or tissue samples using precisely controlled vacuum impulses.

What are the advantages of CTAS technology over existing laser assisted systems?

Our technology requires minimal sample preprocessing. Cells can be collected directly from any standard cell culture dish with minimal impact on cell viability. Similarly, tissue sections do not need to be preprocessed (e.g. fixed) prior to tissue microdissection. Native and fresh frozen tissue sections are used. In addition, the instruments require minimal training, low cost and minimal consumables.

Is it compatible with fluorescence?

Yes. The systems are compatible with fluorescence and a wide range of inverted microscopes.

Cell and tissue collection procedure

What cell types does it collect from cultures?

All instruments can virtually collect any cells grown as adherent cultures. In addition, cells grown in suspension may be collected using specific protocols. Cell colonies grown in 3D medium may be collected as well.

How do I prepare my cells?

It requires no specific preparation protocol when adherent cell cultures are used. Cells are collected directly from the standard culture plates.

Do I have to culture my cells on special cell culture dishes?

No. The instruments work with any cell culture plates.

What kind of tissues can it microdissect?

The instruments are optimal for microdissecting soft tissues, such as the brain, lung, liver, spleen, and kidney. However, a specific protocol can be used to work with other tissue types.

How do I prepare my tissues?

A basic protocol for tissue preparation can be found on the Application Notes page. Most important is to avoid tissue fixation.

Are there any specific requirements for the glass slides used for tissue microdissection?

No. The instruments work with any type of glass slides.

Do I have to stain tissue sections prior to microdissection?

No. Staining is used to identify regions of interest during microdissection. It is optional, but often not required.

What is the quality of RNA isolated from collected samples?

Very high with RIN>9.0. Please see our original publication – Kudo et al, 2012.

What is the protein quality? Can it be used for proteomics studies?

Yes. Proteins isolated from CTAS dissected samples have no signs of degradation and can be used for large proteomics studies. Please see Kudo et al, 2012.

How do I select the right DCU diameter?

The internal diameter (ID) of DCUs should normally be similar to the dimensions of the cells to be collected. For microdissection, ID smaller than the total area should be selected.

Does it pick only a single cell?

Collection parameters are normally optimized for each cell culture. Yes, only a single cell is collected and deposited that is confirmed visually for each collection event.

Purchasing and installation

Can I have a demo?

Please check our instructional videos on tissue microdissection and cell collection. Currently we provide live demos in Southern California only. However, the purchase of any instrument includes free installation and a free training session.

How can I order the instrument?

You can contact us for a quote by phone or email:

Are there any labs using your instruments?

Yes, there are many laboratories in the US and abroad using our systems for both tissue microdissection and collection of individual cells from adherent cultures. Please see our clients.

Does the instrument require a computer and software?

UnipicK™ and UnipicK+™ do not require a personal computer. However, a monitor is required for image visualization and documentation when digital camera is used. A-picK™ is a fully automated system with controlled by our proprietary software, PIKCELLS™. It does require a personal computer for software operation and target visualization.

Does your system include a microscope?

It depends on the instrument. Both UnipicK™ and UnipicK+™ are free standing instruments which can be used with a wide range of inverted microscopes. However, UnipicK+™ with optional automation and A-picK™ are both directly integrated with Olympus IX73 or IX83 inverted microscopes.

What disposables are used?

All instruments use disposable capillary units (DCUs) for the collection of cells, tissue microdissection and measurements of single cell adhesion force. DCUs come in several different diameters (from 10 µm to 100 µm ID) depending on the size of the cells and desired tissue samples.

How expensive are DCUs?

DCUs come in the box of 6 units for approximately $85.00 per box. A discount may be applied if more than 10 boxes are purchased at once.

What are other accessories?

Other accessories include a universal sample holder, slide heater and a universal microscope straddle. Please check our ACCESSORIES page.

What training is required?

Free training during installation sessions is provided. The instruments are easy to use and the software (e.g. UnipicK+™ or A-picK™) is straightforward and intuitive. The instruments are supplied with some free DCUs which can be used during training and/or customer protocol optimization. On average it takes less than an hour for a new operator to learn the procedure. Please, check our instructional videos to familiarize yourself with the operation sequence.

How long do experiments usually take?

It depends on the nature of the experiment and the amount of material you need to collect. On average it takes less than a second to collect a single cell. Normally, tissue dissection takes from 30 to 45 minutes.

Can UnipicK™ or UnipicK+™ units be attached to the microscope that I already have.

Most likely – yes. Both systems are compatible with a wide range of inverted microscopes. Please contact us for specific information.

Can A-picK™ be added to my existing microscope.

Most likely NOT unless this microscope is Olympus IX73 or IX83. A-picK™ is a directly integrated system compatible with these two models of inverted microscopes only.

Service and warranty

What is the warranty?

The instruments have one-year standard full warranty and service. Initial warranty may be extended on request for up to three years.

What is the service plan?

After initial warranty, additional full warranty may be purchased for approximately 5% of the instrument’s cost per year.

How many DCUs do I need?

This is estimated on a case by case basis depending on your experimental needs.

How expensive are DCUs?

Approximately $85.00 per box of six sterile DCUs. Discounts are applied when more than 10 boxes are purchased at once.

Can I make DCUs myself?

No. DCUs are specifically designed and produced by NDX for use with NDX’s proprietary technology. Use of any other type of DCUs will void the warranty.

Can I reuse DCUs?

If the DCU tip is intact it can be reused. We recommend sterilizing DCUs to avoid cross contamination. DCUs can be autoclaved. Please contact us for details.

Does NDX provide cell collection or microdissection services?

Yes, please contact us to discuss your specific project and needs. We can perform both custom microdissection and cell collection services. If necessary, RNA may be extracted and evaluated for integrity.