Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

MIT creates 3D scaffold for growing stem cells

27.12.2006
Stem cells grew, multiplied and differentiated into brain cells on a new three-dimensional scaffold of tiny protein fragments designed to be more like a living body than any other cell culture system.

An MIT engineer and Italian colleagues will report the invention--which may one day replace the ubiquitous Petri dish for growing cells--in the Dec. 27 issue of the Public Library of Science (PLoS) ONE.

Shuguang Zhang, associate director of MIT's Center for Biomedical Engineering, is a pioneer in coaxing tiny fragments of amino acids called self-assembling peptides to organize themselves into useful structures. Working with visiting graduate student Fabrizio Gelain from Milan, Zhang created a designer scaffold from a network of protein nanofibers, each 5,000 times thinner than a human hair and containing pores up to 20,000 times smaller than the eye of a needle.

The researchers were able to grow a healthy colony of adult mouse stem cells on the three-dimensional scaffold without the drawbacks of two-dimensional systems.

... more about:
»Stem »Zhang »motif »scaffold

In addition to helping researchers get a more accurate picture of how cells grow and behave in the body, the new synthetic structure can provide a more conducive microenvironment for tissue cell cultures and tissues used in regenerative medicine, such as skin grafts or neurons to replace brain cells lost to injury or disease.

The scaffold itself can be transplanted directly into the body with no ill effects.

"The time has come to move on from two-dimensional dishes to culture systems that better represent the natural context of cells in tissues and organs," said Zhang, whose coauthors on the paper, in addition to Gelain, are from institutes and medical schools in Milan, Italy.

Life in two dimensions

Biomedical researchers have become increasingly aware of the limitations of growing living cells in coated, two-dimensional Petri dishes and glass slides.

In the body, cells are attached to and supported by the cells, other structures and proteins around them. A cell's normal environment is a complex network of tiny fibers, gaps and pores through which oxygen, hormones and nutrients are delivered and waste products filtered away. Cells move within their natural environments in response to chemical signals or other stimuli.

Researchers are aware that cells on flat surfaces have skewed metabolisms, gene expression and growing patterns. But the only choices have been glass labware and a product called Matrigel, a gelatinous protein mixture secreted by mouse tumor cells. While Matrigel does resemble a complex extracellular environment, it also contains growth factors and unknown proteins that limit its desirability for experiments requiring precise conditions.

"Synthetic biopolymer microfiber scaffolds have been studied for more than 30 years to mimic a living 3D microenvironment, but concerns exist about their degradation products and chemicals," the authors wrote in the paper.

Other synthetic polymer biomaterials are simply too big. Getting cells to grow on them is like forcing spiders to build webs on skyscraper girders. Zhang's nanofiber scaffold, around 1,000 times smaller than the existing systems, is much closer in size to the extracellular matrices that living cells manufacture themselves.

Adding motifs

With the addition of defined amino acid fragments called active motifs, the scaffold can be fashioned to coax stem cells to behave in certain desirable ways-such as differentiating into needed body tissues or migrating toward bone marrow and other natural destinations.

"What makes these designer scaffolds particularly interesting is that cells survive longer and differentiate better without additional soluble growth factors," Zhang said. "This suggests that extracellular microenvironments may play a more important role for cell survival and for carrying out cell functions than previously thought."

The active motif method could be readily adapted to studying cell-to-cell interaction, cell migrations, tumor and cancer cell interaction with normal cells, cell-based drug testing and other diverse applications.

"I believe that in the next 20 years all cell cultures will be in 3D with the designer scaffolds, and most textbooks about cell biology will have to be revised when people obtain results from 3D cell culture studies," Zhang said.

The researchers are now testing the designer scaffold with a variety of cells, including tooth, bone, heart, liver, cartilage, skin, pancreas, blood cells and artery-forming cells.

This work was supported by Olympus Corp. and the National Institutes of Health.

Elizabeth A. Thomson | MIT News Office
Further information:
http://www.mit.edu

Further reports about: Stem Zhang motif scaffold

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Flow of cerebrospinal fluid regulates neural stem cell division
22.05.2018 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

nachricht Chemists at FAU successfully demonstrate imine hydrogenation with inexpensive main group metal
22.05.2018 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

Im Focus: Computer-Designed Customized Regenerative Heart Valves

Cardiovascular tissue engineering aims to treat heart disease with prostheses that grow and regenerate. Now, researchers from the University of Zurich, the Technical University Eindhoven and the Charité Berlin have successfully implanted regenerative heart valves, designed with the aid of computer simulations, into sheep for the first time.

Producing living tissue or organs based on human cells is one of the main research fields in regenerative medicine. Tissue engineering, which involves growing...

Im Focus: Light-induced superconductivity under high pressure

A team of scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg investigated optically-induced superconductivity in the alkali-doped fulleride K3C60under high external pressures. This study allowed, on one hand, to uniquely assess the nature of the transient state as a superconducting phase. In addition, it unveiled the possibility to induce superconductivity in K3C60 at temperatures far above the -170 degrees Celsius hypothesized previously, and rather all the way to room temperature. The paper by Cantaluppi et al has been published in Nature Physics.

Unlike ordinary metals, superconductors have the unique capability of transporting electrical currents without any loss. Nowadays, their technological...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Supersonic waves may help electronics beat the heat

18.05.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Keeping a Close Eye on Ice Loss

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

CrowdWater: An App for Flood Research

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>