Novel Hydrogel System Eliminates and Improves Retainment of Non-Senescent Mesenchymal Stem Cell Populations
The publication of Ronawk’s first Bio-Block™ paper, “Novel Hydrogel System Eliminates and Improves Retainment of Non-Senescent Mesenchymal Stem Cell Populations” was published by Regenerative Medicine on October 12th, 2022. This manuscript is a significant milestone for Ronawk, as it represents the first research manuscript produced by the company to be accepted by the scientific community. The research in the manuscript covers the use of Ronawk’s first developed Bio-Block™, the Tissue Block (T-Block), which is used to successfully grow adult adipose (fat tissue) derived stem cells (ASCs).
In the current manuscript, we show that we were able to successfully grow ASCs over a 6-week period without ever needing to sub-culture the ASCs. ASCs retained key stem cell features and there was a significant reduction in the number of cells that stopped dividing over time, which is known as senescence. In addition, we showed that ASCs grown in the T-Blocks produced by-products that could be collected and used to enhance the growth of keratinocytes which are a cell type found in the skin, and which are responsible for forming the water-tight barrier that protects the rest of our skin and internal organs from the outside environment. Hence, the T-Blocks provide an environment, where the ACS could be more active and produce more therapeutic by-products than when grown in traditional 2D monolayers.
This work is significant because by successfully growing ASCs without the need to sub-culture, we are able to reduce the human labor needed to grow these important cells outside of the body while maximizing the biological opportunity. The Bio-Blocks allow scientists to do more with less.
This publication of our first manuscript is a tremendous step forward in demonstrating the utility and value proposition of the Bio-Blocks. While this first paper focused on the performance of ASCs over time in T-Blocks, we have another manuscript we are anxiously awaiting acceptance of that illustrates the immediate benefits and behaviors of when ASCs are seeded into T-Blocks. We also have studies that demonstrate how different cell types perform in other Bio-Blocks such as X-Blocks, which can be dissolved to release cells making harvesting easy, and E-Blocks which can be used to enhance the production of biological by-products for therapeutic research.
We look forward to sharing these studies over the next 12 months, once they are published.
The Bio-Block Versus Traditional Cell Culture
The T-Block is a cubed-shaped hydrogel that is permeated by microchannels. When ASCs are seeded into the T-Block, they attach to the surfaces within the microchannels and divide and migrate throughout the T-Block. Due to the nature of growing inside microchannels, the ASCs can aggregate together and form sophisticated 3D structures that mimic how cells grow and behave inside the human body, unlike traditional cell culture.
In traditional cell culture, cells are grown on a flat plastic surface in a cell culture vessel such as a Petri dish, well-plate, or flask. When cells are grown on a flat surface, they form a 2D monolayer. When cells are grown in a monolayer format, they don’t behave the same way they do in the body. The interactions of the cells are limited because they are grown on a single plane instead of three-dimensionally as they do in the body. Furthermore, once the cells divide enough and cover the entire plastic surface, they must be chemically detached from the plastic surface, divided, and re-plated in fresh cell culture vessels to allow the cells to continue growing. However, the repeated stress of detaching cells and dividing them is known as “sub-culturing” and over time this causes cells to eventually wear out and stop dividing and responding. In the case of stem cells, the stem cells lose their physical attributes and functions that make them useful for research and therapies. In the human body, sub-culture is not a physiological occurrence. Instead, cells proliferate, create their own substrate, and continue to expand and make complex structures that eventually become functional tissues, organs, and physiological systems.
Hence, the T-Blocks were created to enable cells, like ASCs, to behave and function as they would if they were growing inside the human body. The T-Block and all other Bio-Blocks contain microchannels that allow cells to grow and interact with each other in 3D. This means cells can talk to each other and form complex structures. Furthermore, the cells inside the Bio-Blocks do not need to be sub-cultured. When the cells have covered a sufficient surface area of the channels, a second Bio-Block is attached, and the cells continue spreading and proliferating without needing to be detached. One of the beneficial attributes of the Bio-Blocks is that when two Bio-Blocks are attached to each other, the micro-channels in each Bio-Block align, which allows cells to freely move between the two Bio-Blocks. Furthermore, the micro-channels were designed in such a way that oxygen and nutrient transport is uninhibited so that the cells inside the Bio-Blocks can grow in a healthy manner regardless of where they are physically located. In the case of the T-Block, the hydrogel formulation is mechanically favorable and allows the T-Block to be processed just like human tissue, hence the name.
First Bio-Block Manuscript Supplemental Videos
Please enjoy our first paper on the growth of ASCs in T-Blocks from Regenerative Medicine.
Feel free to share with your friends and colleagues, and let us know what you think about the paper or if you have questions by contacting us.