A dissolvable biomaterial scaffold for generating aligned cell sheets


Generating cell sheets for tissues including cardiac, vascular, muscle, neural, and cartilage that require anisotropic aligned cell orientation relies on the use of biomaterial scaffolds. Currently available biomaterial matrices that are used as scaffolds for tissue growth remain tightly associated with the cells which can impede downstream applications such as imaging and implantation for in vivo studies. The 3D cell culture market currently lacks a simple and inexpensive scaffold that can effectively direct aligned cell sheet growth and be removed from intact cell sheets for downstream analyses.


Investigators at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a method to generate aligned matrices of mixed PNIPAAm/PCL polymer nanofibers. The unique structure and composition of the PNIPAAm/PCL nanofiber matrices promote aligned cell sheet generation and make it possible to easily dissolve away the biomaterial matrix from tissues before downstream applications (see figure). This allows for biomaterial free imaging and grafting. Dr. Zoldan’s group has optimized polymer ratio and nanofiber manufacturing conditions to demonstrate efficient growth of aligned cell sheets. They have successfully generated intact, viable and biomaterial free sheets of fibroblasts and cardiac cells with synchronized beating using dissolution of this mixed nanofiber matrix. Unlike other techniques that use PNIPAAm for dissolution of matrices, Dr. Zoldan’s method does not require expensive and labor intensive nanofiber modifications to achieve aligned cell growth. This scaffold couples the structural platform required to generate aligned cell sheets with the ability to harvest completely biomaterial free tissue for optimal imaging and in vivo grafting applications.

Value and benefits

  • Inexpensive and highly scalable electrospinning method
  • A dissolvable aligned 3D culture scaffold
  • Easily produced biomaterial free aligned cell sheets for imaging & grafting
  • Optimized for tissue health, alignment and matrix dissolution
  • Proven to work for multiple cell types