Interest in the field of three-dimensional (3D) bioprinting has increased enormously over the past ten years, thanks in no small part to its ability to precisely place different biomaterials, biomolecules and cell types together in a predefined position to generate printed composite architectures.
Cell Guidance Systems Blog
Cell therapy is an approach that is being used by many researchers to treat a variety of injuries and diseases. However, there are some challenges associated with it, such as the low rate of cell survival and the uncontrolled differentiation of the injected stem cells. But these are challenges that the use of hydrogels can potentially help to overcome.
Cultured hepatocytes are critical for drug toxicity testing but are not able to maintain their performance levels for long. A new hydrogel is set to improve durability, turning laggard cells into winning performers.
Hydrogels are gel-like materials containing networks of linked polymers swelled with water. Hydrogels that can be used for cell culture come in a huge variety of forms and are used to replicate the function of the extracellular matrix (ECM); the material which surrounds and supports cells in our tissues. This ECM is itself a complex hydrogel.
3D cell culture research these days relies increasingly on self-assembling peptide hydrogels, but what are they and why are they important?
Changes in the composition and components of the extracellular matrix (ECM) can influence cell behaviour. As well as structural proteins, the ECM contains functional proteins which bind to cells and modulate their behaviour. These functional components of hydrogels are critical to consider this when it comes to 3D cell culture.
Xenografts are the transplant of an organ, tissue or cells of another species. Xenografts are a powerful research tool for many diseases, especially cancer. Hydrogels are often mixed with cells to improve their survival and create better xenografts.
Most research still focuses on 2D cell cultures where cells are grown in a flat monolayer on a plate. However, 3D cell culture provides a culture environment that allows cells to grow and interact with the surrounding extracellular matrix in three dimensions. Peptide hydrogels are an ideal matrix choice for 3D cell culture.
Scaffolds have an important role to play in tissue engineering, as they are a substrate that can be used to mimic the native extracellular matrix (ECM). The properties of scaffolds have also been shown to affect cell behaviour such as cell attachment, differentiation and proliferation.
The complex structure of articular cartilage and its lack of vasculature present particular challenges for regenerative medicine. A recent study led by researchers at University College London explored the utility of PeptiInk Alpha 1 for printing 3D chondrocyte structures.