Monday, 30 May 2022 14:24

Traveling through the hydrogel with laser light Featured

A team of researchers from the Vienna University of Technology has developed a new hydrogel. It has an accessory molecule that can give cells a "marching direction" after irradiation with laser light. This allows microtissue structures, such as a blood vessel in an organoid - which is a tissue replica that is intended to replace animal testing - to be created specifically in the desired location.

Nowadays, growing cells in a hydrogel are frequently generated. The hydrogel serves as a matrix so that the enclosed cells form a tissue-like system. However, the way the cells grow and differentiate has so far depended on certain circumstances. Either spherical organoids are created, layers are printed on top of each other, or organoids are fused.

A new approach has now been developed by Prof. Aleksandr Ovsianikov, head of the 3D Printing and Biofabrication research group at the Vienna University of Technology, together with his team. He directs the developing cells to the place within the hydrogel where he wants them to go. And this is done with an additional molecule in the hydrogel, whose "activation" by laser light causes the hydrogel to become more watery and permeable at that spot. The cells then migrate into this site and thus can be guided with the help of light. Tissue structures such as mini blood vessels could be created in an organoid at the desired location.

The perspective lies on the one hand in the differentiated mini-organ structure that is possible, but also in the reproducibility: if all organ replicas have a comparable morphology, the test results can be more easily compared with each other.

Original publication:
S. Sayer et al, Guiding cell migration in 3D with high-resolution photografting, Scientific Reports 12, 8626 (2022).

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