“George Eng, an MD/PhD student in my lab who just received his doctoral degree, designed a lock-and-key technique to build cellular assemblies using a variety of shapes that lock into templates much the way you would use LEGO building blocks,” says Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, who led the study and is a professor of biomedical engineering at Columbia Engineering and professor of medical sciences...."
*Lego-style templates build complex tissue*
"The study reveals new ways to better mimic the enormous complexity of tissue development, regeneration, and disease, and is published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
*Assembly of complex cell microenvironments using geometrically docked hydrogel shapes*
George Enga, Benjamin W. Leea, Hesam Parsaa, Curtis D. China, Jesse Schneidera, Gary Linkovb, Samuel K. Siaa, and Gordana Vunjak-Novakovica
"Cellular communities in living tissues act in concert to establish intricate microenvironments, with complexity difficult to recapitulate in vitro. We report a method for docking numerous cellularized hydrogel shapes (100–1,000 µm in size) into hydrogel templates to construct 3D cellular microenvironments. Each shape can be uniquely designed to contain customizable concentrations of cells and molecular species, and can be placed into any spatial configuration, providing extensive compositional and geometric tunability of shape-coded patterns using a highly biocompatible hydrogel material. Using precisely arranged hydrogel shapes, we investigated migratory patterns of human mesenchymal stem cells and endothelial cells. We then developed a finite element gradient model predicting chemotactic directions of cell migration in micropatterned cocultures that were validated by tracking ∼2,500 individual cell trajectories. This simple yet robust hydrogel platform provides a comprehensive approach to the assembly of 3D cell environments."