Culturing Cells in a New Unique Bioreactor

At the Faculty of Technology and Metallurgy (FTM), University of Belgrade, a novel biomimetic bioreactor has been developed that is utilized for culturing cells, enabling operation in continuous regime and testing of biomaterials.

Using creativity and engineering principles, the research group led by the Professor Bojana Obradović has successfully designed, constructed and tested the bioreactor that imitates physiological conditions in articular cartilage. Due to its design this bioreactor is world unique and it gives an opportunity for culturing cartilage cells enabling at the same time operation in continuous regime and data acquisition on biomaterial properties.

When it comes to culturing cells, every living creature requires certain conditions in order to develop and grow. It is therefore, necessary to provide adequate environmental conditions for the growing cells, until they form the desired tissue. Biomimetic bioreactors are the devices that are used for culturing cells and which provide in-vivo like conditions that are suitable for a specific cell type. During the cultivation, cells are seeded on a scaffold made of biomaterials which have specific characteristics that mimic complex structures surrounding cells in organism and elicit specified cellular responses and growth. Therefore, biomaterials have a direct impact on the properties of cultured tissue. Use of biomimetic bioreactors also enables testing of new biomaterials in conditions that are in-vivo like, which gives an opportunity for a faster way of transferring new products from laboratory to clinics, with the possibility to reduce the extent of animal testing.

Articular cartilage is a bluish-white tissue lining bone ends in joints and enabling joint movement at minimal friction. Due to its specific role in the organism, articular cartilage is exposed to high pressures during motion (up to 18 MPa). Therefore, the novel biomimetic bioreactor needed to provide compression of cells together with simultaneous medium flow, which has the same role as the blood in living organism. In order to imitate tissue deformation created by the joint movement, the tissue samples are placed in cartridges on a holder that is attached to a metal base, which can be moved in vertical direction by a step-motor. In this way, the new bioreactor enables controlled compression of scaffolds with cells in physiological ranges of frequencies (0.1 – 1 Hz) and deformations (5 – 10 %), with the medium flow at velocities corresponding to those of blood in capillaries (10 – 100 μm/s). The bioreactor operation is automatically controlled enabling strict regulation of the cultivating conditions, operation in continuous regime, and data acquisition on biomaterial properties, without sampling.

Proof that this bioreactor is actually working was the successful cultivation of bovine calf cartilage cells accompanied with evaluation of specific biomaterial scaffolds. These results were published in 2010, in the Journal of Materials Science: Materials in Medicine, one of the leading international science journals. Considering the unique design of this novel bioreactor, there is no doubt that it opens a wide range of possibilities and new paths toward remarkable achievements in the field of novel biomaterials and tissue engineering.


Source: www.inovacionifond.rs