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Bio-Assembling in 3-D with Magnetic Levitation

A new system grows tissue in 3-D without protein matrixes
December 15, 2011

Growing tissues on two-dimensional petri dishes is so last century, say proponents of 3-D tissue engineering, who argue convincingly that the body isn’t flat, and the experimental platforms and treatments of the future shouldn’t be, either. Now a new technology, pioneered by Houston-based n3D Biosciences, promises to float cells in a 3-D matrix made of nothing but magnetism.

The secret ingredient is a proprietary mix of nanoparticles the company calls Nanoshuttle. The addition of these particles to a dish of living cells allows them to move in response to magnetic fields that can be varied in three dimensions and across time.

According to an abstract on the work from the just-concluded meeting of the Tissue Engineering International & Regenerative Medicine Society, they’ve managed to tune this effect until it can create a “BioAssembler” that “leads to rapid formation of levitated 3-D cell cultures.”

The system is an alternative approach to bioprinting, in which layers of cells are laid down by specially modified injket printers in a process analogous to traditional 3-D printing.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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