TAP Biosystems announced a three-year collaboration with scientists at The Open University (OU), in Milton Keynes, U.K. to produce robust 3D human central nervous system (CNS) tissue models for use in drug discovery and preclinical testing.
The collaboration will focus on developing technology to generate and manufacture advanced 3D CNS tissue models. Using TAP’s RAFT technology, glial cells and neurons will be made into gel-based tissues. Cells are seeded in collagen gel in a rectangular mould and tethered at each end. The cells contract the collagen and become highly aligned, mimicking the cellular arrangement of living CNS tissue. These tissue models could be used to monitor the responses of glial cells and neurons to simulated damage, and could have applications as a tool for pre-clinical screening of novel therapies for neurological damage and disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.
“Astrocytes are CNS glial cells that normally support neuronal activity, but they change behaviour following damage and can inhibit regeneration. 2D cell cultures of astrocytes and neurons don’t behave in the same way as they do in a living organism and this can limit their range of uses,” says
James Phillips, lecturer in Health Sciences in the Faculty of Science at The Open University. “We are using the RAFT process with astrocyte-seeded collagen gels. The cellular alignment created then allows the other types of cells in our 3D tissue model to organise themselves as they would in a natural environment. This means we can simulate the interaction between glial cells and regenerating neurons after CNS injury and monitor both cell types continuously. We can also carefully control variables, allowing us to test specific hypotheses, and we can look at the way each cell type responds, for example to specific drugs, in a very tightly controlled way without the additional complexity present in an animal model.”
“We hope this collaboration will enable us to develop highly reproducible CNS tissue models, and make them available to academic groups and pharma companies for research and drug screening,” Phillips concluded.
Release date: May 10, 2012
Source: TAP Biosystems
Filed Under: Drug Discovery