Washington, Oct 20 (ANI): Researchers have revealed that stacks of filter paper can help grow cells that mimic the three-dimensionality of real tissue, which would potentially make it faster and easier to find drugs that fight cancer and other diseases.
"This research has the potential to become a standard laboratory tool, alongside the Petri dish, in laboratories that work with cells," said George M. Whitesides, the Woodford L. and Ann A. Flowers University Professor at Harvard University and a founding faculty member of the Wyss Institute.
"Filter paper and other kinds of paper are readily available, and the technique is both very flexible in what it can do, and very convenient to use."
Currently, researchers grow cells in a Petri dish, creating a thin, two-dimensional layer of cells. If they want to do a better job of mimicking real tissue, they culture the cells in a gel.
However, because cells in different locations get vastly different amounts of oxygen and food, these cultures fail to mimic real tissues.
The researchers suggest that by growing cells in a thin layer of gel supported by paper, and then stacking those pieces of paper, they could recreate the benefits of two-dimensional research - where cells receive a uniform amount of oxygen and food - while also closely mimicking real tissue.
Stacking multiple cell-containing sheets also allows researchers to examine the interior of a large cell cluster, either cultured on a dish or grown in vivo, simply by peeling the layers apart, without disturbing the properties of the cells.
Isolating cells grown with other 3D culture techniques requires either performing complex laser-assisted surgery on the tumor sections or destroying the architecture of the tissue and then sorting the cells.
"The best thing about this approach is that it can be used by everyone," said Ratmir Derda, a postdoctoral student co-mentored by Whitesides and Ingber at Harvard's new Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.
"Paper is nearly free, it's all over the place and you don't have to know anything other than how to dip," Derda added.
The study appears in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (ANI)