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Liquid-like Solids Support Cells in 3D

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posted on 01.06.2016, 00:00 by Tapomoy Bhattacharjee, Carmen J. Gil, Samantha L. Marshall, Juan M. Urueña, Christopher S. O’Bryan, Matt Carstens, Benjamin Keselowsky, Glyn D. Palmer, Steve Ghivizzani, C. Parker Gibbs, W. Gregory Sawyer, Thomas E. Angelini
The demands of tissue engineering have driven a tremendous amount of research effort in 3D tissue culture technology and, more recently, in 3D printing. The need to use 3D tissue culture techniques more broadly in all of cell biology is well-recognized, but the transition to 3D has been impeded by the convenience, effectiveness, and ubiquity of 2D culture materials, assays, and protocols, as well as the lack of 3D counterparts of these tools. Interestingly, progress and discoveries in 3D bioprinting research may provide the technical support needed to grow the practice of 3D culture. Here we investigate an integrated approach for 3D printing multicellular structures while using the same platform for 3D cell culture, experimentation, and assay development. We employ a liquid-like solid (LLS) material made from packed granular-scale microgels, which locally and temporarily fluidizes under the focused application of stress and spontaneously solidifies after the applied stress is removed. These rheological properties enable 3D printing of multicellular structures as well as the growth and expansion of cellular structures or dispersed cells. The transport properties of LLS allow molecular diffusion for the delivery of nutrients or small molecules for fluorescence-based assays. Here, we measure viability of 11 different cell types in the LLS medium, we 3D print numerous structures using several of these cell types, and we explore the transport properties in molecular time-release assays.