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3D Cell Growth Opens New Path for Spinal Cord Repair

A novel technique to grow cells in three dimensions, without the traditional restrictions of matrix or scaffolds, has opened a new avenue to repair damaged spinal cords.

Dr James St John of Griffith University’s Eskitis Institute for Drug Discovery used floating liquid marbles to enable cells to freely associate and form natural structures just like they would normally within the human body.

“Liquid marbles are a remarkably simply way to culture cells in 3D,” St John said. “A droplet of liquid that contains the cells is placed upon a carpet of teflon powder to create a liquid marble which can then be floated on cell culture medium.

“By having an air interface between the liquid marble and the cell culture medium upon which it floats, the liquid marble easily rotates. This allows the cells within the liquid marbles to freely associate to form natural structures without the confines imposed upon them by other 3D-culturing methods.

“Allowing cells to grow in this 3D format dramatically increases their growth and function, and is particularly useful for spinal transplantation repair in which cells are transplanted into the injury site.”

The floating liquid marble technique can also be used to grow many other cell types in 3D, and is likely to bring dramatic advances in several biological fields.

The new method, published in Scientific Reports, enables transplanted cells to survive and better integrate into the injury site.