Getting Started
Our Starter Kits can be ordered to help you get started with using any Compresstome® slicer…without having to order, buy, and wait for additional supplies!

In addition, you can refer to our slicing parameter guideline to figure out where to start your experiment for sectioning speed and oscillation frequency.

You can get started the moment you receive your Compresstome® slicer!

To help you get started on sectioning your first specimen, follow these simple steps on agarose embedding and slicing:

Preparing the agarose for embedding:
  1. Each glass vial contains one 0.5 mg agarose tablet. Depending on the gel strength you want for slicing, you can add the appropriate amount of water or buffer solution to the glass vial. We recommend adding 18 mL of solution to each glass vial containing 1 agarose tablet.
  2. Dissolve the agarose tablet for 2 minutes by swirling the glass vial.
  3. Heat the agarose as you normally would, which can be done in a microwave. Then allow it to cool for 5 minutes.
  4. To keep the agarose in a “liquid-like” state, keep the glass vial in a hot water bath set to 40˚C.
  5. We recommend using agarose that has a low transition temperature, which means that the agarose will remain in a “liquid-like” state without congealing at low temperatures. This way, keeping melted agarose in a warm water bath will allow you to have ready-made agarose when sectioning several different specimens.
  6. Advantages of using our Compresstome® agarose preparation:
    1. Eliminates weighing agarose for individual experiments
    2. Agarose tablets are fast dissolving in just 2 minutes
    3. Environmentally friendly with no organic solvents that could harm tissues
    4. Produces consistent, reproducible gels that are clear

Preparing the blade holder:
  1. For each double-edged stainless steel blade, cut the blade horizontally to form two separate blades.
  2. Press a small amount of super glue onto a petri dish or other solid surface. Pipette 5 µL of the super glue onto the blade holder and position the blade onto the blade holder.
  3. Make sure that you do not touch the blade edge!
  4. After the glue dries, you are ready to use the blade holder and blade for sectioning.

Embedding tissue samples in agarose:
  1. Place the syringe chilling block into ice to cool it down.
  2. Prepare your tissue sample by cutting it so that the tissue fits inside the specimen tube.
  3. Press a small amount of super glue onto the specimen tube base.
  4. Using forceps, position the tissue onto the specimen tube base and glue your tissue to the base.
  5. Place the syringe cap onto the top of the specimen tube.
  6. Pipette enough agarose to fully cover the tissue sample. Gently tap on the syringe cap to dispel any air bubbles.
  7. Withdraw the syringe tube downwards so that the tissue sample enters the tube. You can then remove the syringe cap.
  8. Place the syringe chilling block (should be pre-chilled) for 2 minutes over the specimen tube to chill the entire sample and help the agarose to solidify.
  9. Once your tissue is embedded into agarose, you are ready for sectioning with the Compresstome® slicer!

Sectioning with the Compresstome® slicer:
  1. Insert the specimen syringe tube into the buffer tray on the Compresstome® slicer. Push the tube as far as it will go into the buffer tray. A small metal knob on the tube will prevent it from sliding all the way into the buffer tray.
  2. Align the blade:
  3. Place the blade holder with the glued-on blade onto the Compresstome® vibrating head.
  4. Start the cutting process, then stop when the blade reaches about half-way down the specimen tube.
  5. Move the blade as close as possible to the tube edge, then use the small Allen wrench to tighten the blade holder.
  6. Continue cutting with the Compresstome® slicer. You can adjust the slice thickness, sectioning speed, and frequency of oscillation to best suite your experimental needs.

Additional questions? Want some assistance?
Contact us with any questions on getting started! You can reach us at:
Phone: 617-682-0586
  1. "For the past several months, I have been using the Precisionary Instruments Inc VF-200 to cut 300 um prefrontal cortical slices for electrophysiological recordings. As a result, I have been consistently cutting exceptional quality brain slices and have succeeded in obtaining stable whole-cell patch recordings from numerous neurons. Because I am using transgenic mice that have fluorescent reporters, it is of great importance to achieve maximal cell viability and minimal cell death. When I use the VF-200, I have significantly greater number of surface neurons than those slices cut from a regular Vibratome™. In addition the slice surface is much more even, which allows for better imaging. I am thoroughly impressed with the VF-200 and would not hesitate recommending this quality product to fellow electrophysiologists ."
    Newton Woo, PhD NICHD/NI
  2. We obtained a VF-300 Compresstome™ about 5 months ago to use alongside a microtome that we had exclusively used for at least 5 years prior. The VF-300 is more consistent in generating uniform slices and leaves the structure of the tissue/cells more intact than the method we had been using. We have been able to extend the amount of time over which we can cut lung slices, and allows preservation of the architecture of the slice and greater viability of the tissue.
    Dr. Cynthia Kozial-White, University of Pennsylvania
  3. With the Compresstome™ I was able to prepare high quality slices with excellent preservation near the slice surface. The main advantages of this machine are the rapid speed of slicing and the manual stabilization afforded by the agarose embedding. I am able to prepare uniform slices in both the coronal and horizontal planes, and I routinely complete transcardial perfusion, brain removal, and slicing all within less than 10 minutes, which is half the time needed with the Vibratome model. By limiting the time required for slicing the brain tissue is able to recover more easily without significant anoxia, and my slices stay viable for up to 8 hours. I have successfully been able to do targeted whole-cell recordings from fluorescently labeled neurons in slices prepared from >1 year old mice, which is not generally possible with conventional slicers and methods.
    Dr. Jonathan Ting, Allen Institute
  4. We found the Compresstome produces a less apparent damage to the cells of the airways and arterioles as well as to the delicate alveolar parenchyma. Using the Compresstome we are able to obtain more reproducible and successful experiments.
    Dr. Perez-Zoghbi, Texas Tech University
  5. We spent six months trying to cut our tissue (avian olfactory) with a Vibratome..... but without success. It took just 10 minutes with the Compresstome, and the sections are beautiful. It's the best investment my lab has made.
    Dr. David Keays, Institute of Molecular Pathology Vienna
  6. At first, I was skeptical about the VF-200, but the results were astonishing. I have been using a Vibroslice ™ (Campden Instruments, Leicester , UK) for over 13 years, and I would never get so many living cells in one field as with the VF-200. This is also true and especially impressive for tissue of older animals. The oldest rats we used were 31 days of age. The cell quality was very good and the field was very clean. The VF-200 has greatly improved our productivity. Many thanks to Precisionary Instruments Inc. for creating such a wonderful instrument, and for their significant contribution to the neuro-science field.
    Dr. Jiang-Hong Ye, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey