Mechanical Stimulation in Stem Cell Research

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Mechanical Stimulation in Stem Cell Research

Tissue constructs in a microfabricated bioreactor

In tissue engineering, cell growth is directed by many factors, including growth factors and cytokines, mechanical and biochemical properties of the extracellular matrix, cell type, and applied forces such as mechanical stresses. Researchers at the University of Toronto took these essential factors into play during a recent stem cell growth study. The group set out to study the mechanical properties of hydrogel materials and demonstrate that stem cells can be cultured in 3D gels within the platform. The researchers integrated mechanical stimulation and dynamic environments to prove that their platform provided suitable culture conditions for arrayed load-bearing tissue constructs.

University of Toronto researchers employed a TestResources 840 test machine to demonstrate that arrayed tissue constructs could be cultured in a specially microfabricated bioreactor. Mechanical stimulation is considered a key regulatory factor that many culture platforms lack and their design included integrated strain sensors to perform online monitoring of tissue stiffness. The platform permits screening of soluble factors such as growth factors for their efficacy in tissue regeneration protocols. Elastic moduli of three different formulations were measured using a micro device.

Learn more: Three-dimensional mechanical compression research of biomaterials in a microfabricated bioreactor with on-chip strain sensors at University of Toronto