A new partnership ‘Blooms’ for 3D models

Plasticell and CellSpring collaborate on tissue models for drug candidate screening

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STEVENAGE, U.K.—Plasticell and CellSpring have joined forces in a collaboration to develop tissue models using CellSpring’s 3D Bloom Biopolymer Platform, a high-throughput 3D cell culture system that helps provide more informed “stop/go” decisions for preclinical drug candidates. The tissue models are seeded with human mesenchymal stem cells that are then differentiated into bone, cartilage and brown/white fat tissue using CombiCult-derived differentiation media. Plasticell’s Combinatorial Cell Culture (CombiCult) platform enables the development of fully defined, highly effective media formulations to differentiate stem cells for efforts such as drug discovery research and cell therapy. No financial details were disclosed.
Dr. Yen Choo, chairman of Plasticell, says this is the first time the companies have worked together, highlighting CellSpring’s 3D cell culture system as one of the features that caught Plasticell’s interest.
CellSpring notes on its website that compared to scaffolded 3D culture platforms, its 3D Bloom platform is validated for ‘plug and play’ automation, with chemical reproducibility of nearly 100 percent. When compared to scaffold-free 3D culture platforms (i.e. spheroids), 3D Bloom offers easily tunable gel stiffness for different cell phenotypes, robust nutrient diffusion in tissues, an unlimited number of cells per well and compatibility with almost any cell type, the company reports. CellSpring also offers oncology efficacy screening services, including therapeutic efficacy, in-situ immunohistochemistry, microscopy imaging (3D), gene expression and Western blot.
“On a smaller throughput, the 3D cultures of cells resemble the tissues more closely and you can get higher-quality data, but the key is to have a system that allows you to do this low- to medium-throughput screening work in 3D, and that’s what CellSpring has,” Choo tells DDNews.
Plasticell’s CombiCult platform is similarly flexible, as it is compatible with multiple types of stem cells, including embryonic, adult (such as mesenchymal stem cells) and induced pluripotent stem cells. The bead-based high-throughput screening technology can help reduce the time and cost of stem cell differentiation and improve efficiency of differentiation protocols.
“One thing that the CombiCult platform does is to allow you to test many different combinations of cell culture conditions in order to arrive at optimal protocols for cell culture. So for instance, in this particular collaboration, the 3D tissues that form in this particular scaffold 3D Bloom, they typically take quite a long time to form, and the tissue integrity may not be optimal unless you go to great lengths to optimize the tissue culture medium,” he explains. “And so essentially that’s what we do with CombiCult. And in this example, we’ve been able to make tissues that form fairly quickly and which are very high-quality.”
“Testing Plasticell’s formulations in our system, it became clear that impressive 3D bone structures were being formed,” Dr. Chris Millan, co-founder and chief technical officer of CellSpring, said in a press release. “After only a few days in culture we saw upregulation of osteogenic markers and morphological changes. The bone structures became white and opaque, whereas normally microtissues remain quite transparent to the naked eye, and after staining with Alizarin red, we were barely able to transmit light through them in order to image the cells—this is something we have never seen before using our system.”
This isn’t the only partnership for CellSpring and its 3D bloom platform announced this year. Back in late May, the company shared news that it had struck up a co-marketing agreement with Tecan to automate the 3D Bloom platform on a Freedom EVO workstation.

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