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September 15, 2011 (Vol. 31, No. 16)

Supporting Cells with Scaffold Technology

Polystyrene Platform Designed to Facilitate Routine 3-D Cell Culture

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    Figure 3. Often, many more cells per unit volume of culture medium are grown in 3-D systems compared to conventional 2-D models. In static nonperfused systems, maintaining the viability of cells in long-term 3-D cultures over several weeks can be made more efficient by increasing the volume of medium to support the culture. In this example, a specialized holder has been developed that houses up to three 6-well inserts in a 90 mm diameter Petri dish (A). The dish has a capacity of up to 95 mL of culture medium and inserts can be held at three different levels providing yet more flexibility for the user. The 12-well insert has been designed with extended arms that allow it to fit into a conventional 6-well plate and the Petri dish insert holder (B). These arms can also be snapped back such that the 12-well insert can also fit into a standard 12-well plate. Longer term maintenance of cells in alvetex will enable users to create impressive 3-D cultures as shown above (C). This example was grown for 14 days in the 6-well insert and subsequently prepared for histology using standard tissue processing methods.

    Increasing the volume of medium available to support 3-D cultures has been shown to be a simple and effective way of growing cells undisturbed for several days (Figure 3). Similarly, feeding 3-D cultures from above and below the scaffold using a custom well insert improves long-term maintenance of cells.

    Educating users to think differently about how to adapt current practice to the growth of their favorite cell type in 3-D will be critical to the adoption of 3-D cell culture technology. Equally important will be the availability of easy-to-use technology that is flexible and versatile, and enables users to practice 3-D cell culture routinely alongside conventional 2-D culture methods.

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