MIT engineers report a new approach to creating three-dimensional samples of human tissue that could push researchers closer to their ultimate goal: tissues for therapeutic applications and replacement organs. The technique could also help answer questions in cell and developmental biology.
The team "seeded" human embryonic stem cells, which have the potential to differentiate into a variety of specialized cells, onto a biodegradable polymer scaffold. By treating the scaffold/stem cell structure with chemical cues, or growth factors, known to stimulate the formation of specific cell types, the researchers coaxed the stem cells to form tissues with characteristics of developing human cartilage, liver, nerves and blood vessels.
"Here we show for the first time that polymer scaffolds … promoted proliferation, differentiation and organization of human embryonic stem cells into 3D structures," the researchers wrote in a paper to appear the week of Oct. 13 in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Elizabeth A. Thomson | EurekAlert!
Etching Microstructures with Lasers
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