Problem: Conventional cell cultures are conducted in cell culture vessels such in 96- well cell culture plates. While culturing cells in 2D is convenient it may be unrepresentative of living cells, which usually grow in 3D while building living tissues and organs. Emerging evidence has suggested that 3D cell cultures offer important advances. Studies have shown that human annulus disc cells cultured in 3D gel systems showed different morphology than those cultured in 2D. 3D cell culture is also a better model for studying the interactions between cell and growth factors as well as cells and therapeutic agents. 3D cell culture systems can also facilitate the understanding of the structure-function relationship in normal and pathological conditions.
3D Biotek was founded in 2007 with the goal of developing 3D porous devices for stem cell culture, tissue engineering and drug discovery applications. The company immediately set out to develop a solid porous scaffold that could be used to conduct 3D cultures. The biggest challenge in producing the 3D scaffolds is that various sub-systems of the micro-fabrication platform need to work together seamlessly in order to fabricate the scaffolds with the designed pore size and porosity, which in turn, requires a motion and positioning sub-system with high precision. “Most of the gantry systems that we looked at did not have the accuracy to maintain the precise positioning of 10 microns or so required for our applications,” said Wing Lau, chief operating officer of 3D Biotek.
Solution: Then Lau identified the Gantry System LCT from Techno, Inc. The Techno Gantry System LCT is equipped with ball screws on all three axes with closed loop servo motor drives that provide an accuracy of +/-100 microns per 300 millimeters (mm) and a repeatability of +/- 100 microns. The critical dimensions are the pore sizes, which range from 200 to 500 microns. Over a distance of 500 microns, the accuracy of the Gantry System LCT is less than 1 micron so the machine can hold pore size to much tighter tolerance than is required. The Techno machine also provides a speed of 152 mm or 6 inches per second, which is fast enough to achieve high production rates.
3D Biotek developed a Fabrication Program with Microsoft .NET technology that accepts as input basic parameters of the scaffold, such as the outer dimensions and pore size. The program then generates a G-code toolpath file that guides the machine through the intricate series of motions required to produce the scaffold.
“The introduction of 3D Insert will significantly change the current cell culture landscape,” Lau concluded. “3D Biotek believes that the 3D scaffold will enable a revolutionary transition from 2D to 3D cell cultures. The better correlation between the results from in vitro 3D cell culture with the preclinical model and human patient will decrease the overall therapeutic and pharmaceutical product development cost and shorten the time to market.”
For more information go to www.technocnc.com.
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