Growing muscle cells on scaffolds of grass
Tissue engineers are scientists who build muscles, connective tissues, or other parts of organs in the hopes of repairing and replacing those damaged by disease or injury. They generally grow their cells on some sort of scaffold to recreate the 3D forms and contours of the organ or tissue they’re trying to mimic. Scaffolds must be compatible with cell adherence, organisation, and growth – in the case of muscle, for example, they must allow cells to grow in long parallel fibres – and it’s a bonus if the material is cheap enough to scale-up tissue production. That’s why the muscle cells in this photo (nuclei stained blue) are growing on grass. Yes, you read that correctly. Decellularised grass, it turns out, has natural microscopic grooves ideal for growing and fusing muscle cells into naturalistic fibres. What’s more, grass is readily available, incredibly inexpensive, and perhaps best of all it’s green.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.