Now a new technology, pioneered by Houston-based n3D Biosciences, promises to float cells in a 3D matrix made of nothing but magnetism. The secret ingredient is a proprietary mix of nanoparticles the company calls Nanoshuttle. The addition of these particles to a dish of living cells allows them to move in response to magnetic fields that can be varied in three dimensions and across time.
According to an abstract on the work from the just-concluded meeting of the Tissue Engineering International & Regenerative Medicine Society, they’ve managed to tune this effect until it can create a “BioAssembler” that “leads to rapid formation of levitated 3D cell cultures.”
The Bio-assembler system works with virtually all cell types and standard protocols and diagnostics.
Advantages of n3D’s 3-Dimensional Cell Culturing System:
* Rapid formation of 3D structures and cell-cell interactions
* More accurate representation of in vivo tissue
* Compatibility with virtually any cell type including primary and stem cells
* Compatibility with any media type, standard culturing protocols, and diagnostic techniques
* 3D co-culturing capabilities
* Unique capability for moving and shaping tissue, applicable to invasion studies and tissue engineering
In vitro cell culturing is an essential process in emerging areas of biotechnology, such as stem cell research, regenerative medicine, tissue engineering, and drug discovery. Traditional cell culturing is carried out in Petri dishes or media-filled flasks where cells usually attach onto a flat glass or plastic surface in a two-dimensional (2D) cell monolayer. Cells grown in monolayers provide a poor representation of in vivo conditions and are widely acknowledged to be insufficient for demanding technological needs. Many schemes for three-dimensional (3D) culturing are being developed or marketed to address these challenges, such as bio-reactors or protein-based gel environments, but they typically suffer from high cost, low-throughput, poor scalability, complexity, or the presence of non-human biological factors that can alter cell behavior and preclude therapeutic use. Here, we present the Bio-Assembler, which is a 3D cell culturing device based on magnetization of cells using nanoparticle assemblies (Nanoshuttle) and levitation of the cells by spatially varying magnetic fields. Our results indicate that magnetic levitation leads to rapid formation of levitated 3D cell cultures. This should translate into faster results, greater productivity, and reduced personnel expenses for life science research and development. Furthermore, the efficiency and spatial control when generating 3D cultures enables the application of this method towards in vitro and label-free cell based assays. In this presentation we will show a wound-healing assay, where 3D cultures are generated by culturing/levitating embryonic kidney cells (HEK293). Our results show the rate of wound closure can be used to quantitatively evaluate a dose-dependent response to ibuprofen (nephrotoxic agent), including determining the point of zero growth, which is in agreement with reported IC50 value with cultured HEK293 cells. We believe this simple assay has broad application in toxicity testing, cell-based drug discovery, and tissue engineering and reconstruction.
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Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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