Complex Tissue Culture No Longer Exclusive to High-Tech Labs

on February 9, 2012 8:46 PM EST

With the discovery of a simple, straightforward approach to building scaffolds for 3-D tissue cultures by scientist at the University of San Diego, California, soon virtually all biomedical laboratories could be able to break into heights of tissue engineering formerly only reserved to a much smaller number of institutions.

The new method was published online in the journal Advanced Materials and allows for the production of scaffold for tissue culture consisting of multiple layer layers, structurally and chemically distinct from each other. The whole process only relies on commonly used laboratory reagents and materials.

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According to the UC San Diego researchers, this process is more affordable and widely feasible than previous methods that required expensive equipment and expertise.

From now on it is sufficient to create a solution the desired layer components including polymers, which can differ from layer to layer, and mix it with an inert component common to all layers for density control. Now when the solutions are layered the difference in density segregates them from each other and polymerization turns the segregated layers into a gel with distinct properties in each layer.

The structure of each layer can be altered by varying the concentration of polymers, and the discreteness of the transition between layers can be altered by allowing the solutions to diffuse.

"We're excited about the relevance of this method to tissue engineering. Since it offers such straightforward spatial control over structure and composition of stratified tissue scaffolds, including cell type and density, this technology could help the field move much faster." says Jerome Karpiak, graduate student at USCD Biomedical Sciences and main author of the publication.

The claim of in-vitro cultured tissue to replace transplants gained from donors might come into closer reach with more laboratories being able to work in the field and a potentially cheaper solutions for producing structured 3-D scaffolds now at hand.

Adah Almutairi, PhD, assistant professor at the UCSD Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, the Department of Nanoengineering and the Materials Science and Engineering Program at the UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering said, "We believe this approach will vastly broaden the number of labs capable of culturing complex tissue. Because manipulation of structure and concentrations of signal molecules is much easier in this system than in intact organisms, it holds great potential to advance the study of development and disease."

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