Rice University: Soft micro-monitors keep tabs on oxygen in new tissues

Research at Rice University are developing a way to determine if new cells are getting nourishment.
The lab of bioengineer Jane Grande-Allen – a BMES fellow – has invented soft microparticle sensors to monitor oxygen levels in hydrogels that serve as scaffolds for growing tissues, according to a university article.

Hydrogels being developed at Rice's Brown School of Engineering and elsewhere can be placed at the site of an injury. Seeded with live cells, they encourage the growth of new muscle, cartilage or, perhaps someday, entire organs. Ideally, the hydrogel attracts blood vessels that infuse the material and bring nourishment to the cells, according to the article.
Grande-Allen and her team designed their fluorescent particles to report on oxygen levels inside gels. Their work appears in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering.
“We've been collaborating with investigators in intestinal mechanobiology and wanted a straightforward way to tell what level of oxygen we had throughout our 3D tissue cultures,” Grande-Allen said. “Where we intend a specific level of oxygen, we want to be sure that's what the cells are getting.

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