Reinnervate and Roslin Cellab are joining forces to develop protocols for the 3-D growth of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs). Roslin Cellab’s expertise in developing and delivering custom tools and protocols in the field of hESC biology will be coupled with Reinnervate’s Alvetex®Scaffold technology.
Reinnervate and Roslin Cellab will also investigate the growth of hESCs on new alvetex® product formats that may offer the ability to improve and simplify embryoid body assay protocols. Embryoid bodies are derived from stem cells and consist of a broad array of differentiated tissues. In many respects they resemble the structures that form in teratoma tumors when stem cells are transplanted into an animal host.
An aspect of this collaboration will include using alvetex technology to support the growth of embryoid body-like structures. This will subsequently be developed into a robust procedure to reduce the need to use animals for producing teratomas as a test of stem cell developmental potential.
“It is well known that the physical environment in which cells grow plays an important role in controlling cell differentiation and the development of functioning tissues,” notes Stefan Przyborski, CSO and founder of Reinnervate. “Current two-dimensional models restrict the growth potential of differentiating stem cells. The culture of cells in three dimensions radically enhances cell growth, differentiation, and function.
“At Reinnervate,” Przyborski continues, “we have developed Alvetex Scaffold, which provides a solution for simple and routine 3-D cell culture. In this collaboration, we are combining the advantages of 3-D cell growth with the enormous potential of hESCs. Preliminary work has already demonstrated enhanced neural development by stem cells using Alvetex Scaffold technology. We are now engaged in more extensive investigations to fully exploit 3-D cell differentiation by hESCs in collaboration with Roslin Cellab.”
Jason King, manager of business development at Roslin Cellab, notes, “We are seeing great demand for improved 3-D culture systems. Stem cell scientists can use these to study the biology of the stem cell 'niche'. This is the 3-D microenvironment in which stem cells normally reside until they receive signals that cause them to start dividing and to move out into the organ to differentiate into cells of the required type (e.g., heart, brain, or liver cells) and repair tissue damage.
“As a company we have a strong interest in liver cells that we can make from our stem cell lines,” King adds. “It is known that when hepatocytes are grown in 3-D structures, they have both better metabolic enzyme activity and extended life spans, which are both great advantages when using these cells in cell-based toxicity assays.”
Alvetex Scaffold is a polystyrene material that provides a robust and inert scaffold for cells to grow and form complex 3-D structures in the laboratory, mimicking the normal growth and formation of tissues in the body. It has been tested and validated with a number of cell types including liver, skin, cancer, and stem cells.
Alvetex Scaffold has been launched globally in several formats: a 12-well culture plate, 6-well and 12-well inserts, and a deep petri dish. It enables alternative applications such as long-term 3-D cell culture over several weeks, 3-D cell growth at air/liquid interface, and 3-D cell growth with different media constituents to be performed simply and routinely.