PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] A team of Brown University biomedical engineers has invented a 3-D Petri dish that can grow cells in three dimensions, a method that promises to quickly and cheaply produce more realistic cells for drug development and tissue transplantation.
The technique employs a new dish cleverly crafted from a sugary substance long used in science laboratories that allows cells to self-assemble naturally and form microtissues. A description of how the 3-D dish works appears in the journal Tissue Engineering.
Its a new technology with a lot of promise to improve biomedical research, said Jeffrey Morgan, a Brown professor of medical science and engineering.
Morgan conceived and created the 3-D Petri dish with a team of Brown students led by Anthony Napolitano, a Ph.D. candidate in the biomedical engineering program. Napolitano spent two years perfecting the new dish and recently won a $15,000 award from the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance to develop the patent-pending technology into a commercially viable product.
This technology is an inexpensive and easy-to-use alternative to current 3-D cell culture methods, Napolitano said. Its the next generation.
The technology tackles a topic of increasing interest to scientists: creating hothouse cells that look and behave more like cells grown in the human body. Since 1877, scientists have relied on the Petri dish to grow, or culture, cells. The cells stick to the bottom of the dishes and spread out as they multiply. In the body, however, cells dont grow that way. They are surrounded by other cells in three dimensions, forming tissues such as skin, muscle, and bone. This is what happens in Morgans 3-D dish.
The clear, rubbery dish is the size of a silver dollar. It is made from a water-based gel made of agarose, a complex carbohydrate long used in molecular biology. This gel has a few benefits. It is porous,
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