What Does a Homogenizer Do to Cells in Order to Lyse Them?

Posted by David Shechter on Dec 5, 2016 12:30:00 PM

homogenizer and cell lysisHomogenization, also known as micronization, is a technique utilized in a number of industries, including biotech, pharmaceutical, chemical, food, and cosmetic. This important process involves reducing the particle size of cells, tissues, or other samples, and allows for evenly distributed mixtures – also known as emulsions – to be formed. This is accomplished through shearing force, where the cells or tissues are forced through a narrow tube, orifice, or other small space.

In the world of cell lysis, there are several methods used to lyse cells, including mechanical disruption, sound waves, manual grinding, and homogenization. Focusing solely on the technique of homogenization allows us to break down cell lyse methods even further. Here are the three types of homogenization equipment that are commonly used to accomplish this feat, as well as an explanation of how each type of homogenizer works to lyse cells.

Dounce Homogenizer

The Dounce homogenizer consists of a round pestle, often made of glass, that is manually driven into a glass tube to disrupt cells. This machine works to gently lyse cells, which is beneficial when working with sensitive types of tissue. However, it is a time consuming (and very manual) process, often yielding slow throughputs.

Potter-Elvehjem Homogenizer

A Potter-Elvehjem homogenizer is made up on a pestle – either manually or mechanically driven – that is driven into a rounded vessel. Similar to the Dounce homogenizer, the Potter-Elvehjem homogenizer manually disrupts and lyses cells; its efficacy and efficiency is determined by the speed at which the strokes are administered by the user.

French Press

A French Press, while more expensive than both the Dounce and Potter-Elvehjem homogenizers, is more efficient than either. This machine consists of a piston that applies high pressure to a sample, forcing it through a small hole to disrupt and lyse the cells. While effective, the French press is similar to the Dounce homogenizer in that it results in low throughput.

High Pressure Liquid Homogenization

BEE International's High Pressure Homogenizers utilize groundbreaking technology to include time efficient, high yield, scalable results. Our equipment uses the following forces to guarantee results:

  • Shear
  • Cavitation
  • Impact

The combination of these three forces allows our homogenizers to accomplish the goals that many other homogenizers cannot. BEE technology supplies each of these mechanical forces with greater maximum intensity, allowing for higher shear rates, in-line cavitation, and economically scalable results.

Ready to learn more? Contact us to learn more about our high pressure homogenization products and technology. Our free eBook, “7 Key Factors to Consider When Choosing a Cell Lysis Method” is also available for download here:

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