Scientists from IIT Madras and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a new 3D-printed bioreactor. Using this device, it is possible to grow and culture human brain tissue. Now scientists can observe self-organising brain samples, known as brain organoids, growing and developing in real-time.
The work is reported in Biomicrofluidics, by AIP Publishing.
Present technology for real-time observation of growing organoids involves commercial culture dishes with many wells in a glass-bottomed plate. The plates are costly and only compatible with specific microscopes. Moreover, they don’t permit the flow or replenishment of a nutrient medium to the growing tissue. So, all tissue needs food of some kind.
However, the development of the technique of ‘microfluidics’ allowed the delivery of nutrients through minute tubes connected to a chip. But these microfluidic devices are quite expensive and challenging to manufacture.
3D-printing to cheaply grow tiny brains
With the new advancement that uses 3D printing to build reusable and easily adjustable platforms, it is possible to grow and culture human brain tissue at the cost of just $5 per unit. The design comes with imaging wells for growing organoids and microfluidic channels. It will help in providing a nutrient medium and preheating that supports tissue growth.
“Our design costs are significantly lower than traditional petri dish- or spin-bioreactor-based organoid culture products,” said Ikram Khan, a study author. “In addition, the chip can be washed with distilled water, dried, and autoclaved and is, therefore, reusable.”
Researchers tested their device with organoids grown from human cells. So, they studied the growing brain organoids under a microscope for a week. Surprisingly, the tiny amalgam of brain tissue ultimately developed into a cavity or ventricle, encapsulated by a self-organizing structure.
Khan said, “My goal is to see this technology reach people throughout the world who need access to it for their healthcare needs,”