It’s alive! Improved methods for growing human cells can lead to new cures

Creating lab-grown tissues that replicate the human body is crucial for medical research and could lead to groundbreaking new treatments. But, it’s difficult to find methods for making cells that balance ease-of-use with the complexity required to recreat

That’s why Mitacs Globalink students Friederike Floegel from Germany and Mireya Cervantes González from Mexico joined Professor Frampton’s lab at Dalhousie University in Halifax this summer. They had the opportunity to advance two new approaches for culturing cells that better replicate human tissue.

Friederike created temperature-responsive coatings to produce cells that can be detached to study the specific behaviour of cancer cells; and the coating will also make them easier to reproduce.

“Participating in this project improved my research skills, changed the way I read academic papers, and encouraged me to design and conduct my own experiments,’ said Friederike. “Mitacs gave me confidence in the skills and knowledge I gained at university and helped me develop a vision for my future career. I have new energy and motivation, and now I’m starting to think about graduate studies.”

Mireya developed a clever way to attach fibres to a film made from a very large molecule found in many tissues. This allows for better control of the shape of the biomaterial and therefore the growth of cells.

“I was able to experience hands-on research and gain practical approaches in a way I have never done before,” said Mireya. “Participating in this project has shown me that I really like to work in research and development. Once I finish my undergraduate studies, I will now do my masters.”

These developments have many applications in biomedical research and medicine such as the creation of new products for wound care and tissue reconstruction.

“We now have two projects that are in great shape for other students to take on and complete, or potentially for Mireya and Friederike to return to later for graduate school,” says Prof. Frampton.

Mitacs’s programs receive funding from multiple partners across Canada. We thank the Government of Canada, the Government of Alberta, the Government of British Columbia, Research Manitoba, the Government of New Brunswick, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Government of Nova Scotia, the Government of Ontario, Innovation PEI, the Government of Quebec, Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies, and the Government of Saskatchewan for supporting us to foster innovation and economic growth throughout the country.

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