Many drug development and toxicology studies are performed using cells grown in monolayers in well-plates and flasks, despite the fact that these are widely held to be different to cells found in the native environment. 3D, tissue engineered, organotypical tissue culture systems have been developed to be more representative of the native tissue environment than standard monolayer cultures. Whilst the biochemical differences between cells grown in 2D and 3D culture have been explored, the changes on the electrophysiological properties of the cells have not.
We compared the electrophysiological properties of primary normal oral keratinocytes (nOK) and cancerous abnormal oral keratinocytes (aOK), cultured in standard monolayer and reconstituted 3D organotypical tissue cultures. The electrophysiological properties of populations of the cells were analysed using dielectrophoresis. The intracellular conductivity of aOK was significantly increased when grown in organotypical cultures compared to counterpart cells grown in monolayer cultures.
3D cultured aOK showed almost identical intracellular conductivity to nOK also grown in organotypical cultures, but significantly different to aOK grown in monolayers. The effective membrane capacitance of aOK grown in 3D was found to be significantly higher than nOK, but there was no significant difference between the electrophysiological properties of nOK grown in 2D and 3D cultures.
This work suggests that factors such as cell shape and cytoplasmic trafficking between cells play an important role in their electrophysiology, and highlights the need to use in vitro models more representative of native tissue when studying cell electrophysiological properties.
There Is Another Way - An Approach to Sustainable Exploration and Settlement of Space
Outlined in the video above is a possible path forward for space exploration and settlement. Settlement because it is a worthy goal, and settlement because it is the only way to explore on a reasonable NASA budget. The entire point of this exercise is that NASA is capable of doing something great, while what it is doing now is a waste.
Without a goal and a strategy, the talented work force of NASA and the tax payer dollars are being squandered on 'running in place' projects like the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion. These systems are not sustainable, do not lead to space settlement, break faith with the flexibility and talent of the NASA workforce, and waste money competing with the commercial sector who should be their partners.
Instead of this go-nowhere-stay-nowhere 'strategy', NASA should be given the freedom and vision to pursue the already fruitful partnerships with the commercial space industry and return to blazing the trail and igniting the imagination of the nation and the world. There is another way.
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