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New biological scaffold offers promising foundation for engineered tissues

Date:
February 24, 2014
Source:
Michigan Technological University
Summary:
Engineered tissues like the ones used to create artificial skin need a scaffold for cells to grow on. Now a team of researchers has coaxed cells called fibroblasts into creating a scaffold that mimics the body’s own internal matrix, and in early tests, cells seem happy to set up residence, and had the added advantage of provoking a very low immune response.

Highly aligned nanofibers created by fibroblasts form a biological scaffold that could prove an ideal foundation for engineered tissues. Stem cells placed on the scaffold thrived, and it had the added advantage of provoking a very low immune response.
Credit: Feng Zhao

Our cells don't live in a vacuum. They are surrounded by a complex, nurturing matrix that is essential for many biological functions, including growth and healing.

In all multicellular organisms, including people, cells make their own extracellular matrix. But in the lab, scientists attempting to grow tissue must provide a scaffold for cells to latch onto as they grow and proliferate. This engineered tissue has potential to repair or replace virtually any part of our bodies.

Typically, researchers construct scaffolds from synthetic materials or natural animal or human substances. All have their strengths and weaknesses, but no scaffolds grown in a Petri dish have been able to mimic the highly organized structure of the matrix made by living things, at least until now.

Feng Zhao of Michigan Technological University has persuaded fibroblasts, cells that makes the extracellular matrix, to make just such a well-organized scaffold. Its fibers are a mere 80 nanometers across, similar to fibers in a natural matrix. And, since her scaffold is made by cells, it is composed of the same intricate mix of all-natural proteins and sugars found in the body. Plus, its nanofibers are as highly aligned as freshly combed hair.

The trick was to orient the cells on a nano-grate that guided their growth -- and the creation of the scaffold.

"The cells did the work," Zhao said. "The material they made is quite uniform, and of course it is completely biological."

Stem cells placed on her scaffold thrived, and it had the added advantage of provoking a very low immune response.

"We think this has great potential," she said. "I think we could use this to engineer softer tissues, like skin, blood vessels and muscle."

The work is described in the paper "Highly Aligned Nanofibrous Scaffold Derived from Decellularized Human Fibroblasts," coauthored by Zhao, postdoctoral researcher Qi Xing and undergraduate Caleb Vogt of Michigan Technological University and Kam W. Leong of Duke University and published Jan. 29 in Advanced Functional Materials. Zhao designed the project. Xing and Vogt did the work, and Leong developed the template for cell growth.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan Technological University. The original article was written by Marcia Goodrich. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Qi Xing, Caleb Vogt, Kam W. Leong, Feng Zhao. Highly Aligned Nanofibrous Scaffold Derived from Decellularized Human Fibroblasts. Advanced Functional Materials, 2014; DOI: 10.1002/adfm.201303460

Cite This Page:

Michigan Technological University. "New biological scaffold offers promising foundation for engineered tissues." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140224123804.htm>.
Michigan Technological University. (2014, February 24). New biological scaffold offers promising foundation for engineered tissues. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140224123804.htm
Michigan Technological University. "New biological scaffold offers promising foundation for engineered tissues." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140224123804.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

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