Scientists at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US, have grown human brain tissues called ‘organoids’ with help of a 3D Printed Bioreactor that they developed. The objective was to observe the brain tissues while they grow and develop, a technology that can potentially accelerate medical and therapeutic discoveries for diseases such as cancer and neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The current cell culture protocols involve separate chambers for incubation and imaging, requiring that cells are physically transferred to the imaging chamber — which poses the risk of false results and chances for contamination.
However, the scientists team have come up with a novel solution, which lets the cells grow uninterruptedly.
A 3D printed micro-incubator and imaging chamber was made into a single palm-sized platform, which was successfully demonstrated for long-term human brain cells culture and real-time imaging.
“The design from this research is a scalable microfluidic technology in which copies of an organoid can be grown simultaneously in different wells, for studies in basic and applied science," Professor Anil Prabhakar, Department of Electrical Engineering, IIT Madras, said in a statement on Monday.
“This bioreactor can be completely automated with different protocols, and used for drug discovery, thus drastically reducing labour costs, errors, and time to market. Different environmental sensors can be combined with this micro-incubator and our device fits with most of the microscopes for live-cell imaging," he added. The technology has been patented in India.
The findings of this research were recently published in the peer-reviewed international journal Biomicrofluidics.
Cell culture is one of the fundamental steps in validation of the human organ model, whether it may be a pre-clinical study for Covid-19, cancer medicine discovery or any medicine to be used on humans. There is an open challenge in growing cells for long durations and studying them in real-time to gain a better understanding of the effects of medicine.