News in Brief
10-03 :: March 2010
Cell Measurements //
Elastic 3D-Microstructures for Cell Cultures
cientists of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Germany, have presented a process to produce
three-dimensional and flexible substrates of any
structure. This method opens up new possibilities for the investigation of cell movement and differentiati- on.
For their production, the working group uses a process called direct laser writing. It was developed
by the physicists Professor Martin Wegener and Dr. Georg von Freymann at DFG Center for Func-
tional Nanostructures (CFN) of KIT. A computer- controlled, focused laser beam writes in a photoresist like a pen in three dimensions. During development, the irradiated areas remain standing. They are then coated by a protein to which the cells can adhere.
Cardiac cells from chicken embryos sown onto these structures start to contract rhythmically and to bend the elastic, thin beams after a few days. “It is shown by comparative measurements with the atomic force microscope that they develop a tensile force of 47 Nanonewtons. This would be sufficient to move a mass of about 5 millionths of a gram,” explains the biologist Dr. Franziska Klein. “Roughly calculated, a cube of densely packed cells with an edge length of five centimeters could lift nearly five kilograms.”
Further experiments with other structures are aimed at finding out how cells react to various mechani- cal properties and spatial conditions of their three-
Cells (colored red and green) adhere to the beams of the elastic microstructure, which are only about a thousandth of a millimeter in diameter. © M. Rill / KIT
dimensional environment. For these experiments, the team of biologists and physicists plans to produce larger and more complex structures, into which the cells can migrate as if into a porous sponge. The re-
sults may help to optimize tissue cultivation condi- tions and regenerative medicine with stem cells.
Franziska Klein, Thomas Striebel, Joachim Fischer, Zhong- xiang Jiang, Clemens M. Franz, Georg von Freymann, Martin Wegener, and Martin Bastmeyer: Elastic Fully Three-dimensional Microstructure Scaffolds for Cell Force Measurements, In: Advanced Materials, Vol. 22(2010), Issue 8, February 23, 2010, Pages 868-871, DOI:10.1002/ adma.200902515: