Researchers from the Vienna University of Technology, led by Aleksandr Ovsianikov, have revealed plans
to build microstructures that contain embedded living cells. Ovsianikov and his team plan to build these tiny structures with lasers. Ovsianikov has been awarded an ERC Starting Grant from the European Research Council (ERC) of approximately 1.5 million Euros to fund the project.
The researchers plan to first suspend living cells in a liquid, which consists mostly of water. They say they will then add cell-friendly molecules that react with light in such a way that a laser bream can break up double bonds and cause a chemical chain reaction that enables molecules to bond and create a polymer. The researchers say a solid structure can be created by guiding the laser beam through the liquid. Non-polymerized surplus molecules will be washed away, leaving just hydrogel structures that contain living cells. The caged cells would then be useful for research and for growing three dimensional tissues.
Ovsianikov said in the announcement, "We want to develop a universal method, which can serve as a standard for three dimensional cell cultures and which can be adapted for different kinds of tissue and different kinds of cells."
Image: Vienna University of Technology