3D Hydrogels and Bioinks for In-vitro Modelling in Advanced Therapies: Our Experience at IBIN/3DbioNet meeting
From 20 to 21 January BiogelxTM attended the joint IBIN/3DbioNet meeting in London where Africa Galvez-Flores (Marie Sklodowska-Curie Researcher) and Paul Gordon (Global Commercial Manager) discussed the current challenges in 3D tissue modelling and bioimaging with the other attendees. The meeting was a good opportunity for scientists from varied backgrounds to present their research, network and foster new collaborations. Presentation topics covered a wide range of topics such as the generation of consistent 3D in-vitro tissue models, organoids and organ on-a-chip systems, 3D cell culture, advanced microscopy techniques, mathematical modelling and machine learning applications.
In line with our work here at Biogelx and the creation of 3D in-vitro models, we had the opportunity to learn about the generation of hybrid hydrogels, which combine natural scaffolds such as alginate and collagen. Tuning the stiffness of these hydrogels would drive mesenchymal stem differentiation into different lineages. Controlling mesenchymal stem cell fate at tuned stiffnesses has also been demonstrated with our synthetic Biogelx-S hydrogels. In the absence of differentiation media, matrix proteins or bioactive motifs directed at the differentiation of neuronal, cartilage and bone phenotypes at low, medium, and high stiffness, respectively. This application has potential to be utilised for personalised regenerative medicine.
One of the many interesting presentations focused on a project on monitoring dermal absorption and formulation performance in an in-vitro skin model, highlighting the importance of 3D in-vitro models as drug and toxicity testing platforms. Biogelx is currently involved in the creation of a novel bioprinted skin model with the potential to act as a skin substitute in drug and toxicity assays. For this purpose, the Biogelx collagen inspired bioink Biogelx-INK-GFOGER is being used. Although the GFOGER peptide sequence is found in collagen, our material is completely synthetic which allows for the possibility of creating more accurate, standardised and reproducible experimental 3D in-vitro platforms.
Africa Galves-Flores presented on behalf of Biogelx focusing on the application of our gels in research applications in advanced therapies. For example, she discussed her project within the THERACAT network, for which she is developing a 3D in-vitro cancer model as a testing platform for the assessment of a new generation of chemotherapies based on bio-orthogonal catalysis. In order to achieve this, Africa is using biofunctionalized Biogelx-RGD hydrogels, which contain the peptide fragment from the extracellular matrix protein fibronectin. At a determined stiffness these gels enable the viability, correct morphology and maintenance of the epithelial breast cancer cell line she is working with.
Overall, the recent IBIN/3Dbionet network meeting provided us with valuable information about research trends and challenges in the generation and analysis of consistent 3D in-vitro systems and related technology. Overcoming these challenges will allow us to understand and engineer better systems to be applied in advanced therapies, such as regenerative medicine, and for the development of reliable drug testing platforms. Cooperation with the fields of mathematics, advanced imaging and data analysis will help achieve this goal.