Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Tampering the current in a petri dish

19.05.2016

Electricity plays a key role in cell studies, but practical issues linked with the shape of the laboratory cultureware have troubled this research. Laboratory cultureware are the plastic containers used by researchers to grow cells. These containers are typically shallow cylinders: a classic example is a petri dish.

While a petri dish is circular, the simplest way to create a uniform electric field is based on a rectangular shape. These different geometries prevent scientists to fully exploit the potential of a cell cultureware, as a significant part of the round petri dish base remains outside the field-generating rectangle that goes into the cultureware. A PhD student's project, which has led to a patent application and a published article in Scientific Reports, is radically changing this situation.


Testing the performance of the device.

Credit:

The student, Hsieh-Fu Tsai, worked under the supervision of Prof Amy Shen, head of the Micro/Bio/Nanofluidics Unit at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST). His research project focused on cell behaviour in an electric field.

"Cells respond to electric current," Tsai explained. "Some cells migrate towards the positive pole, while others towards the negative pole, and some cells show a specific alignment with the electric field." These phenomena are known to play an important role in key biomedical areas, like wound healing and the early stages of cell development, such as neurogenesis and embryogenesis.

Scientists typically choose to study cells in a uniform electric field, as such an even field is the simplest case to work with in a controlled setting. An effective way to create a uniform electrical field is through a rectangular device, because the electric poles are connected to two of the opposite sides of the rectangle, and thus the pathways of the electric current are all of the same length.

However, most standard cell cultures happen in a circular shaped environment, like a petri dish, and it is not possible to directly create a uniform electric field just connecting electric poles to the opposite sides of a circle. "The walls of a petri dish are curved," Prof Shen commented, "and in a circle the pathways of the electric current are of different lengths, so the resulting electric field is not uniform."

Tsai and colleagues found a revolutionary solution to this problem. They created a plastic insert that modifies the pathways of the electric current in a circular shape, making each current path of the same distance. The insert, simple and inexpensive, achieves this goal by making the shorter pathways running inside the device itself, and thus extending their length until they match the longer pathways.

The insert has four holes on top: two holes for providing cells with nutrient, and two holes for applying electricity. First, the researchers lay cells on the bottom of a petri dish. Then, the insert is placed into the cultureware and sealed in place. Finally, the scientists add fresh nutrient for the cells to grow and apply the electrical current.

The design of the insert is based on the fundamental principles of electricity, which helped the researchers in finding the optimal shape of the device. Once the shape is defined, the insert can be directly created with a 3D printer. Thanks to this simple process, the insert is scalable and can be easily adapted to fit most of the common laboratory cultureware of any size. OIST scientists have already tested the performance of the device through a successful experiment on mouse embryonic fibroblast cells.

"One of the advantages is that, with this device, researchers can use most of the surface coverage of the dish," Prof Shen said. "This results in higher cell count, and thus in more samples for further experiments."

There are several applications for this device in cells studies. "This time we were specifically aiming for tissue applications, because many researchers are trying to create functional body tissues in the lab; for example, muscle, skin, and liver," Tsai explained. "You can grow these tissues, but frequently they do not have the function that you see in the body. That's because they are not mature yet: they need training, like a muscle needs exercise. An electric field is one of the training method scientists are trying to use on cells." The project has already generated contacts with the tissue engineering industry.

Notably, Tsai developed this project during a three-month lab rotation that is part of the standard curriculum at OIST. PhD students work in three different laboratories during their first year, exploring the diversity of scientific research. This model, possibly unique in the tertiary education landscape, is proving itself successful and effective in fostering innovation.

###

The research was interdisciplinary and done in collaboration with Prof Tadashi Yamamoto, leader of OIST Cell Signal Unit, and Dr Ji-Yen Cheng's group from Academia Sinica in Taiwan

Kaoru Natori | EurekAlert!

Further reports about: 3D printer cell development electric field electricity

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Silicon solar cell of ISFH yields 25% efficiency with passivating POLO contacts
08.12.2016 | Institut für Solarenergieforschung GmbH

nachricht Robot on demand: Mobile machining of aircraft components with high precision
06.12.2016 | Fraunhofer IFAM

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>