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Cell-building discovery could reduce need for some animal research
Date:2/2/2009

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] Brown University biomedical engineers can now grow and assemble living microtissues into complex three-dimensional structures in a way that will advance the field of tissue engineering and may eventually reduce the need for certain kinds of animal research.

The team, led by Brown professor Jeffrey Morgan, successfully used clusters of cells grown in a 3-D Petri dish also invented by the group, in order to build microtissues of more complex shapes.

Such a finding, detailed in the March 1 issue of Biotechnology and Bioengineering and posted at the end of January on the journal's Web site, has enormous implications for basic cell biology, drug discovery and tissue research, Morgan said.

Because the tissues Morgan's team created in the lab are more like natural tissue, they can be constructed to have complex lace-like patterns similar to a vasculature, the arrangement of blood vessels in the body or in an organ. Morgan said that added complexity could eventually reduce the need to use animals in certain kinds of research. The National Science Foundation and the International Foundation for Ethical Research funded the study, with the latter group's mission focused in part on reducing the use of animals in research.

"There is a need for tissue models that more closely mimic natural tissue already inside the body in terms of function and architecture," said Morgan, a Brown professor of medical science and engineering. "This shows we can control the size, shape and position of cells within these 3-D structures."

But Morgan said the finding also makes an important contribution to the field of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.

"We think this is one step toward using building blocks to build complex-shaped tissues that might one day be transplanted," he said.

The new finding builds on earlier work by Morgan and a team of Brown students, which appeared
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Contact: Mark Hollmer
Mark_Hollmer@brown.edu
401-863-1862
Brown University
Source:Eurekalert  

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