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3-D cell culture: Making cells feel right at home
Date:3/15/2010

g raises another interesting long-term possibility. "This is a step toward building better models of organs in the lab," Pasqualini said.

The new technique is an example of the innovation that can result when experts come together from disparate fields. Killian studies ultracold atoms and uses finely tuned magnetic fields to manipulate them. He had been working with Rice bioengineer Robert Raphael, Ph.D., for several years on methods to use magnetic fields to manipulate cells. So when Killian's friend Glauco Souza, Ph.D., then an Odyssey Scholar studying with Arap and Pasqualini, mentioned that he was developing a gel that could load cancer cells with magnetic nanoparticles, it led to a new idea.

"We wondered if we might be able to use magnetic fields to manipulate the cells after my gels put magnetic nanoparticles into them," said Souza, who left M.D. Anderson in 2009 to co-found Nano3D Biosciences (www.n3dbio.com), a startup that subsequently licensed the technology from Rice and M.D. Anderson.

The nanoparticles in this case are tiny bits of iron oxide. These are added to a gel that contains phage. When cells are added to the gel, the phage causes the particles to be absorbed into cells over a few hours. The gel is then washed away, and the nanoparticle-loaded cells are placed in a petri dish filled with a liquid that promotes cell growth and division.

In the new study, the researchers showed that by placing a coin-sized magnet atop the dish's lid, they could lift the cells off the bottom of the dish, concentrate them and allow them to grow and divide while they were suspended in the liquid.

A key experiment was performed in collaboration with Jennifer Molina, a graduate student in the laboratory of Maria-Magdalena Georgescu, Ph.D., an associate professor in M.D. Anderson's Department of Neuro-Oncology, in which the technique was used on brain tumor cells called glioblastomas. The results showed that cells grown in the
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Contact: Scott Merville
smerville@mdanderson.org
713-792-0661
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert

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