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.