Cell culture is the process of taking cells out of the body and growing them in an artificial environment. It is inescapable to understand biological processes, test potential drugs, assess toxicity of chemical compounds, and multiply cells for cell therapy. To date, standard cell culture comprises that cells live in a soup of nutrients on the surface of relatively simple plastic dishes. Because tissue is generally soft and plastic is stiff, cells become stressed by the hard surface and lose their tissue character. We have designed novel biomimetic cell culture surfaces that imitate the softness of various tissues and organs, allowing the cells to «feel like home» even outside the body. For cells to attach and grow on our surface we have to make it «sticky» by specific chemical treatment.
The goal of the project supported by the Gebert Rüf Stiftung is to design a novel easy-to-use multifunctional molecule that ameliorates cell attachment to our soft surfaces. A second aspect of the project consists in quantifying the benefits of culturing cells on our innovative cell culture system.
What is special about the project?
This project supported by the Gebert Rüf Stiftung is of high significance since design of our novel cell-adhesive and soft surfaces will greatly advance current cell culture methods. Tissue-soft culture allows to enhancing cell production by increasing both quantity and quality, two prerequisites necessary for novel therapeutic applications such as cell therapy. This multifaceted project includes cutting edge knowledge and requires close collaboration between biologists and chemists. A major expected outcome is the transfer of the technology from to the laboratory to a commercial product.
To date, we have successfully developed silicone-based substrates with tissue-like stiffness for cell culture applications. We can generate a range of high-quality substrates whose viscoelastic properties span from the softness of brain to the stiffness of bone. Furthermore, we have developed specific techniques to produce our substrates with yet unmet optical properties that match the quality of glass and cell culture plastic. Our substrates retain all advantages and the easy handling of conventional culture ware. When coated with proteins, cells adhere to and grow on our soft surfaces. However, protein coating is expensive and inconvenient for large volume commercialization (sterility problems, degradation, shipping and storage difficulties).
With support from the Gebert Rüf Stiftung, we could identify and design innovative and potent multifunctional polymers that are cost-effective and can be used as stable coating agent for our in vivo-like cell culture substrates. The multifunctional polymer coating adhered strongly to our soft substrates and enabled cell adhesion, growth and differentiation. The coating does not interfere with conventional biological techniques to retrieve cells for biochemical or molecular analysis. Further experiments have been carried out to characterize the behavior of cells grown on our innovative culture substrates. In a nutshell, the cell original/natural characteristics were maintained even throughout long-term cell culture process.
Balestrini, J.L., Chaudhry, S., Sarrazy, V., Koehler, A., and Hinz, B., (2012) The mechanical memory of lung myofibroblasts, Integrative Biology (in press);
Majd, H. Quinn, T., Wipff, P.-J., and Hinz, B. (2011) Dynamic expansion culture for mesenchymal stem cells. ‘Mesenchymal Stem Cell Assays and Applications’, Methods in Molecular Biology In: M.C. Vemuri, M.S. Rao & L.G. Chase (eds.), Vol. 698, 175-188.
PME Magazine, Novembre 2011
Persons involved in the project
Dr. Pierre-Jean Wipff, Projektleiter, pierre-jean.
Prof. Boris Hinz, boris.
Prof. Jeffrey Hubbell, jeffrey.
Last update to this project presentation 17.10.2018