Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Stacks Of Filter Paper Provide A Realistic, Easy-to-use Medium For Growing Cells

Date:
October 23, 2009
Source:
Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard
Summary:
Insight from a cell biologist is likely to make a fundamental shift in how biologists grow and study cells -- and it's as cheap and simple as reaching for a paper towel.

Paper makes a great medium for culturing cells with the ease of a Petri dish and the accuracy of a 3-D gel, according to researchers in Harvard's Department of Chemistry, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and Harvard Medical School. This image illustrates the steps needed to make multi-layer cultures out of uncoated paper.
Credit: Ratmir Derda

An insight from the labs of Harvard chemist George Whitesides and cell biologist Don Ingber is likely to make a fundamental shift in how biologists grow and study cells – and it's as cheap and simple as reaching for a paper towel.

Related Articles


Ratmir Derda, a postdoctoral student co-mentored by Whitesides and Ingber at Harvard's new Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, has realized that by growing cells on several sheets of uncoated paper, he can solve a problem that has bedeviled biologists for years: how to easily grow and study cells that mimic the three-dimensionality of real tissue.

This work will simplify creation of realistic, three-dimensional models of normal or cancerous tissue -- potentially making 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."

Now, 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. But because cells in different locations get vastly different amounts of oxygen and food, these cultures fail to mimic real tissues. And studying the cells from different parts of these gels without destroying the 3D culture is tricky.

By growing the cells in a thin layer of gel supported by paper, and then stacking those pieces of paper, the scientists showed 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. In this case, they engineered a 3D tumor on paper that exhibited behaviors similar to a cancer in the body.

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.

Derda said he had the initial insight that led to this study when he heard a colleague complain that he couldn't use paper to filter blood, because the erythrocytes, which give blood their red color, are sometimes trapped in the paper and sometimes go through it. Derda, who developed and used peptide arrays for stem cell research in his Ph.D. work, thought he might be able to use this trapping property for high-throughput screening. When he discussed that insight with Whitesides, the older chemist suggested Derda try stacking the pages instead.

Fellow postdoctoral student Anna Laromaine helped Derda figure out how to clip multiple layers of paper together while submerged in the gel, allowing the first multi-layer cell culture to grow. When he gingerly pulled the sheets of paper apart and analyzed the distribution of cells in different layers, he realized the versatility of paper as a growing medium and its potential to mimic any three-dimensional tissue.

"The best thing about this approach is that it can be used by everyone," Derda said. "Paper is nearly free, it's all over the place and you don't have to know anything other than how to dip."

The work was supported by funds from the Wyss Institute, National Institutes of Health, Vertex Inc., DoD Breast Cancer Innovator Award, the Fulbright-Generalitat de Catalunya, and the American Heart Association.

In addition to Derda, Whitesides and Ingber, the founding director of the Wyss Institute, a faculty member at Harvard's Medical School and its School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and a researcher at Children's Hospital Boston, the paper's other authors are: Akiko Mammoto and Tadanori Mammoto of Ingber's lab, and Laromaine and Sindy K. Y. Tang of Whitesides' lab.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ratmir Derda, Anna Laromaine, Akiko Mammoto, Sindy K. Y. Tang, Tadanori Mammoto, Donald E. Ingber, and George M. Whitesides. Paper-Supported Three-Dimensional Cell Culture for Tissue-Based Bioassays. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, October 19, 2009 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0910666106

Cite This Page:

Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard. "Stacks Of Filter Paper Provide A Realistic, Easy-to-use Medium For Growing Cells." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 October 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091019162931.htm>.
Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard. (2009, October 23). Stacks Of Filter Paper Provide A Realistic, Easy-to-use Medium For Growing Cells. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091019162931.htm
Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard. "Stacks Of Filter Paper Provide A Realistic, Easy-to-use Medium For Growing Cells." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091019162931.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) — In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) — Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) — The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Newsy (Dec. 19, 2014) — A new study suggests a certain type of bird was able to sense a tornado outbreak that moved through the U.S. a day before it hit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins