Tissue engineering has emerged from the need for alternative grafts to auto or allo-transplantation. 3D engineered tissues have been developed using biomaterials and cells to mimic the properties of the damaged tissue with the ultimate purpose of repairing or replacing it.
The mechanical properties of engineered tissues evolve with time since cells are able to degrade the initial biomaterial and produce ECM proteins. Due to their soft nature and complex preparation, measuring the viscoelasticity of engineered tissues is challenging and monitoring their changes during culture time is not often possible.
We have designed the ElastoSens™ Bio to answer these needs. The instrument tests the viscoelasticity of cellularized scaffolds by applying gentle vibrations to the sample and measuring with no contact its response to the mechanical stimulus. The cellularized scaffold is contained in a detachable sample holder and the whole system can be inserted in a biological hood for testing under sterile conditions. The sample holder containing the engineered construct can be placed in the incubator and retested multiple times during culture time. At each time point, the instrument measures and displays the current storage (G’) and loss (G’’) shear modulus of the evolving cellularized scaffold.
In this example, the same keratinocytes laden gelatin samples were tested during 14 days of culture using the ElastoSens™ Bio. The gels were prepared at concentrations of 10 %, 15 % and 20 % (w/w%) of gelatin. The higher concentration of gelatin led to a mechanically stable construct whereas a significant degradation was observed for the other two conditions.
The ElastoSens™ Bio opens new horizons for scientists that can now precisely evaluate the evolution of their bioengineered tissue from a mechanical perspective. This is important for understanding cellular behavior, for analyzing scaffold degradation and ECM production, and for developing constructs that closely mimic the site of application.
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