The University of Pennsylvania demonstrates a possible method of rebuilding complex body tissues

Service Engineering

Using a magnetic field and hydrogels, researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, have demonstrated a possible method of rebuilding complex body tissues. The progress could lead to longer-lasting injury treatments, including cartilage degeneration. The results are published in the Advanced Materials journal.

The team discovered that cells, as well as other non-magnetic objects, could be organised into specific patterns that resemble natural tissue, using an external magnetic field, if they applied a magnetic liquid to a 3D hydrogel solution.

“The University of Pennsylvania demonstrates a possible method of rebuilding complex body tissues.“

The hydrogel solution, as well as the objects in it, were exposed to ultraviolet light in a photocrosslinking process, after short-term interaction with the magnetic field, to lock everything in place, and the magnetic solution was consequently diffused out.

The team was able to re-form articular cartilage with this magneto-patterning technique.

Hannah Zlotnick, the study’s first author, who works in the McKay Orthopaedic Research Laboratory, Penn Medicine, stated: “We found that we were able to arrange objects - such as cells - in ways that could generate new, complex tissues without having to alter the cells themselves. Others have had to add magnetic particles to the cells so that they respond to a magnetic field, but that approach can have unwanted long-term effects on cell health. Instead, we manipulated the magnetic character of the environment surrounding the cells - allowing us to arrange the objects with magnets. There is a natural gradient from the top of cartilage to the bottom, where it contacts the bone. Superficially, or at the surface, cartilage has a high cellularity, meaning there is a higher number of cells. But where cartilage attaches to the bone, deeper inside, its cellularity is low.”

Robert Mauck, PhD, Senior Author, stated: “These magneto patterned engineered tissues better resemble the native tissue, in terms of their cell disposition and mechanical properties, compared to standard uniform synthetic materials or biologics that have been produced. By locking cells and other drug delivering agents in place via magneto-patterning, we are able to start tissues on the appropriate trajectory to produce better implants for cartilage repair. This new approach can be used to generate living tissues for implantation to fix localised cartilage defects and may one day be extended to generate living joint surfaces.”

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