Two dimensional (2D) tissue samples have been successfully grown using usual cell culture techniques. However, in order for cell cultures to be representative of three dimensional (3D) tissues it is necessary that they are grown in a spatial environment. Elastomers can be used for this purpose. Elastomers are a form of polymer that have elastic properties. There are multiple properties of elastomers that can be adjusted in order to provide a suitable environment for growing different cell types. The elastomer used in this project is liquid crystalline based. Its main chain is constructed of ε-caprolactam and side chains of cholesterol which gives the elastomer biocompatible properties. The use of liquid crystalline elastomers (LCE) provides a material that is anisotropic which is important for neuronal cell growth. This LCE is porous in its structure which creates a 3D matrix for cell growth making it a good candidate for supporting spatial growth of cellular structures. Elastomer pore size was measured using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and adjusted in order to better support the growth of neuroblastoma cells. In this project human neuroblastoma cells (SHSY-5Y) were seeded within the LCE. Cells were allowed to grow for an extended period of time and imaged using confocal microscopy to better understand how the cells are growing within the LCE. The purpose of this project is to create the optimal conditions for the neuroblastoma cells by manipulating the LCE properties to control and enhance neuroblastoma cell growth.
Dr. Robert Clements
Dr. Taizo Mori