A novel system that maintains the growth of stem cells in 3D cultures. Embryonic and adult stem cells of human origin provide unique models for studying human development and at the same time, exciting potential sources of cells for regenerative medicine. In vivo, embryonic and adult stem cells grow and function within three dimensional (3D) niches exhibiting complicated spatial and cellular structure, which typically reflects the developmental stage of the organism and the physiological demands. Unfortunately, this structure can not be accomplished using present techniques of stem cell growth and investigation, which are based almost invariably on 2D culture in dishes, where the exposure to biochemical signals is uniform and does not support spatio-temporal patterning. The present technology consists of a system that enables the 3D growth of embryonic and stem cells, and regulates their participation in tissue generation, maintenance and repair.
• Infrastructure for growing stem cells, tissues and embryos for either research or therapeutic purposes
• Investigation of failure of human infertility
• Cancer research and therapy
• Various assays in 3D environment
• Enables aspects of morphogenesis that were not previously accessible for in vitro investigations (e.g. blastocyst implantation)
• 3D niche that can support dynamic control and long-term development of extended embryonic tissues
• It has the ability to mimic early development in an ex vivo environment
• Amenable to mass production, cheap and can be sent immediately via CAD file (using e-mail) to any potential buyer
The outlined invention presents a new concept of culturing stem cells, embryoid bodies (EB) and embryos in a controllable 3D niche comprising a mixture of biodegradable scaffolds, supportive cells and feeding capillaries. The system supports dynamic control of the spatio-temporal concentrations and gradients of the biochemical components (e.g. nutrients and soluble gases) throughout the entire culturing period. It also contains tools for generating the niche and injecting the embryo/EB into the niche. The system is inherently accessible for live-cell time lapse confocal microscopy over an extended period of time, online collection of metabolites, and sample retrieval for analysis at the end of the experiment.