JAN 01, 2018 12:39 PM PST

Engineers Use Live Tissue to Biohack 3D Structures

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

It seems that as complex as biological structures are, they can be recreated using only simple instructions, reports new work in Developmental Cell. Bioengineers were able to pattern mechanically active mouse and human cells onto layers of thin, extracellular matrix fibers. With this technique, they could create bowls, ripples, and coils from living tissue. The cells just folded themselves in predictable ways as they acted in concert within a web of the fibers, to mimic the process of natural development.

This image shows the shapes made of living tissue made by the researchers. By patterning mechanically active mouse or human cells to thin layers of extracellular fibers, the researchers could create bowls, coils, and ripple shapes. / Credit: Alex Hughes

"Development is starting to become a canvas for engineering, and by breaking the complexity of development down into simpler engineering principles, scientists are beginning to better understand, and ultimately control, the fundamental biology," explained senior author Zev Gartner, part of the Center for Cellular Construction at the University of California, San Francisco. "In this case, the intrinsic ability of mechanically active cells to promote changes in tissue shape is a fantastic chassis for building complex and functional synthetic tissues."

3D printing and micro molds are already used to make three-dimensional shapes for use in tissue engineering laboratories. Often, however, critical structural features that are present in live tissue is missing from these programmed tissues. Gartner’s team utilized a cell patterning technology that works precisely in three dimensions, called DPAC for DNA-programmed assembly of cells. That allowed them to create the foundation, a template a tissue that folded itself into complex structures, replicating how living tissue is assembled hierarchically during the development of organisms.

"We're beginning to see that it's possible to break down natural developmental processes into engineering principles that we can then repurpose to build and understand tissues," noted first author Alex Hughes, a postdoctoral fellow at UCSF. "It's a totally new angle in tissue engineering."

"It was astonishing to me about how well this idea worked and how simply the cells behave," Gartner said. "This idea showed us that when we reveal robust developmental design principles, what we can do with them from an engineering perspective is only limited by our imagination. Alex was able to make living constructs that shape-shifted in ways that were very close to what our simple models predicted."

Next, the team wants to investigate how the developmental program controlling folding can be joined with others that regulate the patterning of tissue, as well as questions about cell differentiation in response to mechanical changes. 


Learn more about biohacking in the video above, from Ted Talks.

 

Image credit: Pixnio

Sources: AAAS/Eurekalert! Via Cell Press, Developmental Cell

About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on over 30 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 70 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
SEP 11, 2020
Cancer
Targeting Senescence in the Peripheral Nervous System to Fight Toxicity
SEP 11, 2020
Targeting Senescence in the Peripheral Nervous System to Fight Toxicity
Chemotherapy is a life-saving discovery for cancer patients. One of its biggest drawbacks is the toxicity that comes wit ...
SEP 21, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
The Hormones We Have at Birth Are Linked to Disease Throughout Life
SEP 21, 2020
The Hormones We Have at Birth Are Linked to Disease Throughout Life
New work may help explain why some autoimmune or immune-related diseases are more common in women, who are more likely t ...
OCT 21, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
Extracellular Vesicles Help Heart Cells Survive a Heart Attack
OCT 21, 2020
Extracellular Vesicles Help Heart Cells Survive a Heart Attack
During a heart attack, blood flow is blocked and cells lose oxygen and begin to die. Scientists are developing many new ...
NOV 05, 2020
Cardiology
Investigating Platelet-Derived Extracellular Vesicles in Blood Clotting
NOV 05, 2020
Investigating Platelet-Derived Extracellular Vesicles in Blood Clotting
In our bodies, there are millions of signals and packages being sent and received every second. In the past several deca ...
NOV 07, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
How the Suction Cups on Octopus Arms Detect Their Surroundings
NOV 07, 2020
How the Suction Cups on Octopus Arms Detect Their Surroundings
Scientists have taken a close look at the physiology of the octopus, creatures that are ancient and unique. Their arms c ...
NOV 11, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
Visualizing a Tumor Suppressor in Action
NOV 11, 2020
Visualizing a Tumor Suppressor in Action
Many types of cells in our bodies are short-lived and need to be replenished. Cell division has to be carefully controll ...
Loading Comments...