Three Dimensional Platforms for Cell Culture

This article, titled “A Versatile Synthetic Extracellular Matrix Mimic via Thiol-Norbornene Photopolymerization,” is about the basic structure and chemistry typical of a hydrogel system, similar to the system I will be using, and about why hydrogels are important. It also explains that because hydrogels can emulate the environment a cell experiences when inside the body, hydrogels can be used as a three dimensional platform for cell culture and for the studying of cells. Additionally, this hydrogel platform functions as a cell scaffold that the researchers explain could be used for transplanting cells. The researchers explain, “thiol-norbornene polyermizes via photoinitiation to form a matrix in which cells can be encapsulated within” [1]. Due to the “pore” size of the matrix, or the gaps in between the network, proteins and other small molecules necessary for cell viability can be swelled within the gel. This thiol-norbornene system is a good start for hydrogels, but the researchers explain potential problems of photopolyermization. Photopolymerization can create harmful radicals that can damage cells so a hydrogel system that doesn’t need photopolyermization would be more ideal. This article also demonstrates the dynamic capabilities of the matrix to change its density to those more similar to living tissue. This hydrogel system was used to keep stem cells that are pretty strong and durable alive. I am using this article because it was the first article I read when I entered my lab and it provided me with information about the basis of the research I was about to engage in. I currently use a different hydrogel polymer system that can have more delicate cells encapsulated within it and survive, but providing the background of why hydrogels are even created, for culturing cells, studying development of cells, and potentially transplanting cells, is important to convince the UROP grant committee that my research is beneficial and important.

[1]         B. D. Fairbanks, M. P. Schwartz, A. E. Halevi, C. R. Nuttelman, C. N. Bowman, K. S. Anseth, Adv. Mater. 2009, 21, 5005–5010.

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