The Petri dish has become so ubiquitous in modern life science research that even the common peasant knows how to use the term with negative connotation. Trillions of organisms must have grown in the bacterial equivalent of Flatland not knowing of the third dimension that was so near yet so far away. Like the book Flatland demonstrated to eager young fans of mathematics, a two dimensional world is a poor representation of a 3D one. Living tissues don’t grow in flat sheets and biological processes are dependent on their environment and nearby surroundings.
Researchers from Rice University, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and spinoff company Nano3D Biosciences have shown that magnetic levitation can be a used to provide an environment for volumetric growing of tissue for research and one day maybe even for clinical use. Using the technique, the researchers were able to combine four tissue types found within lungs into a single whole that can be used to study how tissue reacts to toxins, drugs, or other stimuli.
[Hubert] Tseng said the new tissue resembles native bronchiole tissue more closely than any other tissue yet created in the lab.
“We conducted a number of tests, and the tissue has the same biochemical signature as native tissue,” Tseng said. “We also used primary cells rather than engineered cells, which is important for toxicological testing because primary cells provide the closest possible match to native cells.”
[Glauco Souza, Nano 3D Biosciences chief scientific officer and co-founder] said bronchiole tissue could solve another problem that’s frequently encountered in testing the toxicity of airborne agents.
“With traditional 2-D cultures, it is very difficult to culture cells at the air-liquid interface, which is what you’d prefer for toxicity testing,” he said. “With our technology, we can easily levitate the bronchiole tissue to the air-liquid interface so that airborne toxins are exposed to the epithelial layer of the tissue, just as it would occur in the lungs.”
Rice press release: Maglev tissues could speed toxicity tests
Study in journal Tissue Engineering, Part C: Assembly of a three-dimensional multitype bronchiole co-culture model using magnetic levitation