Can you imagine the day when we will no longer have to worry about organ donors for the simple fact that we will be able to grow functioning tissues and organs in a culture dish? Thanks to Chia-Chi Ho, PhD, and her colleagues at the College of Engineering and Applied Science, this we are one step closer to making this vision a reality.
Ho is a chemical and materials engineering associate professor in the School of Energy, Environmental, Biological and Medical Engineering, working with nanotechnology to advance our understanding and control of cells. Cells within the human body are structural and functional units which migrate during many processes, such as wound healing, immune response and the formation and spreading of cancer (called cancer metastasis).
Last year, Ho and her colleagues indicated that they could guide cell migration through the use of microarrays. Microarrays are a laboratory tool, also referred to as lab-on-a-chip, which allows the researchers to interact with living cells. Ho explains, “We can use microarrays to amplify the natural direction of cells and guide their continuous migration along preset paths and directions.”
Building upon this discovery, Ho and her team recently discovered a new method to simply and inexpensively sort cells in a culture dish. Out of curiosity, Ho stamped a honeycomb pattern using an adhesive substance onto culture dishes and seeded them with a mixture of two different types of cells. The two cells had varying preset cell movement in their enzymes and as expected, after 72 hours, the two groups of cells separated from each other on the dish.