Category Archive: Technology

  1. The advantages of peptide hydrogels over other 3D cell culture matrices.

    2 Comments
    Watch the video now!

    Try Biogelx 3D Hydrogel Systems! Buy a Discovery Kit!

    To ensure you receive an invite to our next webinar, subscribe here!

    Cell culture is an essential tool for the study of cell biology and preclinical biomedical research and has become a vital component of drug screening and toxicity testing in pharmacology research. Over recent years it has been widely acknowledged that 3D cell culture techniques can provide more physiologically-relevant results to more traditional 2D culture systems.

    Cell culture models utilising 3D matrices allow individual cells to maintain their normal morphology, allow complex cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions, and provides oxygen and nutrient gradients, thereby providing an environment which more closely mimics the natural ECM, promoting the creation of native architecture found in vivo. Such matrices often take the form of hydrogels.

    Hydrogels are water-swollen networks of crosslinked polymeric chains (up to 99% water) and have emerged as the most promising option for cell culture since they mimic salient elements of native ECMs and possess mechanics similar to those of many soft tissues.

    In this context, both natural and synthetic hydrogels have been investigated extensively for the encapsulation and culture of cells, with both classes providing their own set of advantages and limitations. To achieve the best of both worlds, researchers are turning their attention to synthetic peptide hydrogels as 3D cell culture matrices where a balance of biocompatibility and consistency are possible.

    Watch this webinar and learn:

    • How our synthetic peptide hydrogels can provide a more physiologically relevant environment in vitro.
    • How our 3D hydrogels can be tailored to control cell behaviour
    • The potential of synthetic peptide hydrogels in applications including cancer research, cell-based assays, and regenerative medicine.
    Presented by

    Robert Edward Schwartz, M.D., Ph.D.

    Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Sanford I. Weill Medical College of Cornell University and an Attending Physician, New York-Presbyterian Hospital Cornell campus

    Professor Matthew Dalby

    Professor of Cell Engineering (Institute of Molecular Cell and Systems Biology) at the University of Glasgow

    Mitch Scanlan

    Chief Executive Officer of Biogelx Limited, former Sales & Marketing Director of Sartorius Stedim BioOutsource, and former Head of Sales & Marketing at Millipore UK

  2. MODELLING IN VIVO CONDITIONS IN VITRO: 3D HYDROGEL SYSTEMS FOR BIOMEDICAL APPLICATIONS

    5 Comments
    The advantages of peptide hydrogels over other 3D cell culture matrices
    Register Now For Free >>

    Cell culture is an essential tool for the study of cell biology and preclinical biomedical research and has become a vital component of drug screening and toxicity testing in pharmacology research. Over recent years it has been widely acknowledged that 3D cell culture techniques can provide more physiologically-relevant results to more traditional 2D culture systems.

    Cell culture models utilising 3D matrices allow individual cells to maintain their normal morphology, allow complex cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions, and provides oxygen and nutrient gradients, thereby providing an environment which more closely mimics the natural ECM, promoting the creation of native architecture found in vivo. Such matrices often take the form of hydrogels.

    Hydrogels are water-swollen networks of crosslinked polymeric chains (up to 99% water) and have emerged as the most promising option for cell culture since they mimic salient elements of native ECMs and possess mechanics similar to those of many soft tissues.

    In this context, both natural and synthetic hydrogels have been investigated extensively for the encapsulation and culture of cells, with both classes providing their own set of advantages and limitations. To achieve the best of both worlds, researchers are turning their attention to synthetic peptide hydrogels as 3D cell culture matrices where a balance of biocompatibility and consistency are possible.

    Key Learning Objectives
    • How synthetic peptide hydrogels can provide a more physiologically relevant environment in vitro.
    • How synthetic peptide hydrogels can be tailored to control cell behaviour
    • Understand the advantages of these materials over other 3D cell culture matrices
    • The potential of synthetic peptide hydrogels in applications including cancer research, cell-based assays, and regenerative medicine.
    •  Case studies – The use of synthetic peptide hydrogels to direct stem cell differentiation, to improve cartilage phenotype in 3D culture, and their use in the 3D culture of hepatocytes for the development of an in vitro liver model.
    Register Now For Free >>
    Presented by

    Robert Edward Schwartz, M.D., Ph.D.

    Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Sanford I. Weill Medical College of Cornell University and an Attending Physician, New York-Presbyterian Hospital Cornell campus

    Dr. Schwartz is an active physician scientist focused on developing and building models of human liver disease in vitro. His interests include viral hepatitis, autoimmune causes of liver disease, Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease as well as metabolic causes of liver disease. He uses stem cell biology, hepatocyte biology and incorporates engineering techniques to better understand human liver disease with the goal to improve clinical therapy. >>

    Professor Matthew Dalby

    Professor of Cell Engineering (Institute of Molecular Cell and Systems Biology) at the University of Glasgow

    Prof. Dalby is a biologist interested in the way that mesenchymal stem cells from bone marrow interact with materials. His research interest includes  adult stem cell interactions with nanotopography, dynamic (cell responsive) surfaces, 3D hydrogels and growth factors organising interfaces; metabolomics for stem cells; and stem cell mechanotransduction. >>

    Mitch Scanlan

    Chief Executive Officer of Biogelx Limited, former Sales & Marketing Director of Sartorius Stedim BioOutsource, and former Head of Sales & Marketing at Millipore UK

    Mr. Scanlan is a business development expert who has successfully driven the commercialization of a range of technology and service companies within the life sciences sector. Mitch has worked for large multinationals, SME’s and start-ups including Millipore, Quintiles, Deloitte, Touche, Sartorius Stedim Biotech, Bioprocessors Corporation, and BioOutsource Limited. In his current role, Mitch works on the business transformation of a Scottish biomaterial SME called Biogelx.

    Register Now For Free >>
  3. Behind the scenes: R&D and Innovation at Biogelx

    1 Comment

    Interview with Mitch Scanlan, CEO, who speaks about the recent and future R&D and innovation at Biogelx.

    Mitch Scanlan

    What is Biogelx for those who may not have heard of the company’s novel 3D peptide-based hydrogels? 

    Biogelx is helping people working in translational science, drug discovery and tissue engineering by “making in vitro cell cultures more in vivo”.  We do this through manufacturing and supplying 3D cell cultures that can be tuned to specific tissues and synthetic bioinks that are reproducible and easy to handle.

    Our portfolio of biomaterials is comprised of synthetic peptide hydrogels that act as extracellular-matrix environments to support cell growth.  In addition, the chemical and physical properties of our biomaterials can be precisely tuned to replicate the characteristics of specific tissues so that the cells experience and engage with a realistic 3D environment. These unique cell-matching capabilities enable pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies, medical researchers and academics to better predict the safety and efficacy of screened compounds before they enter expensive clinical trials.

    What are the biggest challenges the 3D Cell Culture industry is facing today?

    On the whole, the 3D cell culture industry is an exciting field in which to be operating.  In fact, the global 3D cell culture is expected to grow by 15% between now and 2024 to $1.69bn. This growth is driven by a demand in the areas of stem cell research, tissue engineering, drug discovery and, in particular, toxicity testing. That’s because pharmaceutical companies are increasingly looking for in vitro models that better predict the safety and efficacy of compounds before they are studied in humans.  A report by BIO in 2016 found that over 90% of drug candidates entering Phase I trials fail to make it to marketing authorisation and a recent report from Deloitte found that, as a result, the cost of bringing a drug to market increased from $1.5bn in 2016 to $2bn in 2017.

    However, although the benefits of 3D cell culture over 2D screening are increasingly recognised there are considerations that prevent a wholesale adoption of phenotypic screening in industry.

    Firstly, the development of cell-based models to identify more specific cell behaviours costs more than traditional, 2D high throughput screening and represents an additional step in the drug discovery process.  This means the methods and outcomes need to be proven and validated in order to demonstrate value to industry.  This takes time, requires investment and demands benchmarking that isn’t necessarily well established.

    Secondly, this is an emerging field and awareness of the different technologies and evidence supporting them isn’t widespread.  So, sharing of data, insights and education with industry is important.  In addition, this emerging field doesn’t yet have the imaging and analysis techniques associated with it in the same way they exist for more traditional high throughput screening.

    Finally, the need for industry to outsource these capabilities is clearly an opportunity for 3D cell culture providers but it also takes many organisations (pharmaceutical companies included) into the unknown territory of joint ventures and collaborations.  Navigating intellectual property agreements and the development of new business models is something that requires time and an appetite for trying something new.

    What is new for this year as opposed to the previous one at Biogelx?

    This year we have been focusing on better serving the end user through the commercial transformation of the company. We have developed a new sales and marketing strategy that aims to educate, share data and provide insight. To achieve this, we’ve recruited additional science and commercial professionals, and we’ve increased our spend on Research and Development.

    We recently launched our new 3D Cell Culture product range, which offers functionalized cell culture matrices in response to market demand and in October we will launch our new generation peptide-based 3D bio-ink portfolio (BiogelxTM-INK).

    In addition, we have been supporting Masters and Ph.D. students who are developing an osteogenic sarcoma model, an osteoarthritis model, wound healing applications and 3D bioprinting application for biomimetic bone grafts.  We have also collaborated with external partners on two cancer research projects and applied for funding for a third.

    Can you tell us more about the future product and service developments at Biogelx?

    After the launch of our new, tissue specific 3D cell cultures and our synthetic bioink  this year we will be working to launch another product before the end of 2018.  This product will retain the key features of our biomaterials and will be particularly interesting for researchers currently using Matrigel.

    Beyond 2018, we will be working to realise our ambition of developing the biological capability within the company to complement the chemistry that makes our products unique.  We are also extremely excited to be starting a research project that aims to make personalised cancer treatment a reality for the future.

    Biogelx will host a live webinar on October 25; what do the audience gain from attending this webinar?

    This webinar has been designed for industry researchers, translational scientists and academics working in drug screening, toxicity testing and cell biology. The audience will gain insight from leading academics into the role of 3D cell culture in preclinical biomedical research as well as the specific role of Biogelx’s 3D cell culture in stem cell research and developing liver models for toxicity texting.  The speakers will provide insight and experience gained through their work at the Sanford I. Weill Medical College of Cornell University, the City University of New York, the University of Strathclyde and the University of Glasgow.

    The webinar will provide insight into the increasing role of 3D cell culture techniques in providing more physiologically-relevant results to more traditional 2D culture systems.  There will also be perspectives as to why hydrogels are the most promising option in the development of 3D cell cultures that mimic both the salient elements and mechanics of native ECMs.  The audience will also see the evidence for Biogelx’s 3D cell culture products in stem cell research and in the development of liver models.

     

    Related Articles:

     

    Would you like to collaborate with Biogelx?

     

    Cells behave differently in a 3D environment

     

    MODELLING IN VIVO CONDITIONS IN VITRO: 3D HYDROGEL SYSTEMS FOR BIOMEDICAL APPLICATIONS

    The Power of Peptides: Peptide-based Hydrogels for the Culture of Primary Neurons

     

  4. The Power of Peptides: Peptide-based Hydrogels for the Culture of Primary Neurons

    2 Comments

    The culturing of primary neurons represents a vital part of neuroscience research. Primary neurons are derived directly from brain tissue and can be used for the modelling of complex neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and to study synaptic function, morphology, neurotoxicity, neurotransmitter release. Whilst the use of primary neurons enables cell culture researchers to more accurately explore neuronal activity as they provide a more realistic representation of the in vivo environment, the culture of these primary cells is notoriously difficult. A major issue associated with culturing neuronal networks is short survival. While short-term culturing of neurons can be a relatively straightforward, long-term cultures require more effort, but are important as it can take several weeks/months to observe key neuronal functions and network activity. As such increasing viability and extending neural life-span is crucial. To do this a combination of excellent cell-culture handling skills along with an optimal combination of media, supplements and growth surface/matrix is required. Unlike neural stem cells, primary neurons do not proliferate, thus initial attachment of cells to a suitable growth surface is critical.

    One of the most commonly used systems for primary neuron culture is poly-L-lysine coated culture ware, with others including 2D films of fibronectin- and laminin-functionalised polymers. Perhaps surprisingly, it has been found that Matrigel, used for the culture of iPSCs and other sensitive cell types, has not been shown to support primary neuron culture as successfully. A significant problem highlighted with current substrates used in primary neuron culture is that they can suffer from batch-to-batch variability. Such variation can adversely affect neuronal viability, resulting in poor reproducibility of results.

    In a recently published ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces article, researchers from the University of New South Wales demonstrate the successful use of peptide-based hydrogels as alternative substrates for the long-term culture of primary neurons.  The short peptides described within the paper, self-assemble into a fibrous matrix which promotes the adhesion and development of primary neurons, allowing their long-term culture (> 40 days).  A key part of the work demonstrated that the peptide nanofiber networks supported normal neuron maturation by confirming the formation of synapses and the development of electrically active neuronal networks and that the materials are permissive toward neuronal transfection and transduction. In addition to these successful long-term culture results, the authors emphasise that the chemically well-defined and reproducible nature of self-assembling peptide hydrogels provide a distinct advantage over current primary neuron cultures which utilise poly-l-lysine in terms of reducing batch-to-batch variability. Furthermore, unlike the 2D coatings generated with poly-l-lysine, the article highlights preliminary results which demonstrate that these peptide hydrogels can be used to create 3D cultures of neuronal cells thereby providing an even more physiologically-relevant setting to the in vivo environment of the brain, making them suitable for a wide variety of applications in neuroscience research.

    Check out the full article here: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acsami.8b07560

     

    Related Articles:

    The power of peptides: short sequences to promote cell-adhesion to synthetic materials

    Cells behave differently in a 3D environment

    Upgrading your project using peptide hydrogels

     

  5. Interview with Joshua E. Shaw, who is a rising star in the field of cell matrix biology and and regenerative medicine

    1 Comment

    Joshua E. Shaw is a rising star in the field of cell-matrix biology and regenerative medicine. He is currently focused on stem cell research at the University of Manchester. His research funded by BBSRC looks at how cells’ mechanical environment influences their behaviour. In this research, Joshua uses peptide hydrogels for 2D and 3D cell culture. In the following, he shares his experiences with us.

    1.       What research does your lab focus on?

    For my current project (BBSRC funded Ph.D.) I’m based between two labs – the Richardson Lab (Dr. Stephen Richardson) has a primary focus on studying stem cell biology for regenerative medicine applications whereas the Swift Lab (Dr. Joe Swift) is interested in how the cells’ mechanical environment influences their behaviour.

    2.       Why is it so important to use 3D models?

    At the cellular level 3D models give us clues as to how particular cell types may behave in their in vivo environment. 3D models can be particularly important when the cell type is particularly scarce or difficult to access. For our application, the Biogelx gels help us understand how cells respond to mechanical cues from their 3D environment.

    3.       What are the features you think are key for a 3D matrix?
    For a 3D matrix that is to be used for cell culture you’d want it to have three main features:
    1. maintain a viable population of cells,
    2. be compatible with common cell culture equipment and
    3. be made of a material that doesn’t interfere with common assays.
    These appear quite mundane features but without them, it can take years of optimisation before you are able to use a new 3D matrix to make interesting new discoveries.
    .
    4.       Have you tried any alternative systems?

    For this particular project, we haven’t tried any alternatives. Continuing to design and develop a system to utilise Biogelx hydrogels in mechanobiology experiments is my sole interest. However, we routinely use a number of different hydrogel systems in the lab.

    5.       Why did you choose Biogelx products?

    Biogelx hydrogels were chosen for this particular project because they are compatible with 2D and 3D culture, are easily tuneable to different elastic moduli (stiffness) and are synthetic; so don’t carry across exogenous proteins such as growth factors. The latter point is especially important as I did not want to introduce further confounding variables into my set-up.

    6.       What are the next steps in your research?

    I now have good evidence that our cells are happy and responding well to the environment the Biogelx gels provide. The next step will be to see how far I can push our 3D system; the next few months will be particularly exciting!

     

    Related Articles:

    Stem Cell Differentiation

    Looking into the Future: The role of biomaterials in stem cell-based regenerative medicine

     

    Upgrading your project using peptide hydrogels