Gail Naughton, President of Advanced Tissue Sciences, Inc.
in La Jolla CA, patented a container called a bioreactor that
simulates conditions inside a healthy body, including putting
physical stresses on cells as they grow. The result is stronger,
more natural tissue.
bioreactor subjects growing tissues to more natural forces.
bioreactor has been evolving since 1989, when it became apparent
that cells needed a more sterile environment than a petri
dish in which to grow. Naughton eventually designed a bioreactor
in which cells were subjected to a constant, unidirectional
flow of fluid that brought nutrients in and wastes out. Subjected
to this flowing media, the cells lined up in neat rows.
is the kind of thing that brings a smile to a scientist's
face," says Naughton. "Because that's exactly what happens
in the body."
the bioreactor's most recent incarnation, Naughton cultivates
cartilage, heart valves and blood vessels. According to Naughton,
valve materials grown in the reactor have double the mechanical
strength and secrete more important structural proteins, like
collagen and elastin, than do those grown in a petri dish.
bioreactor-grown cartilage is stronger than that grown
in a petri dish.
can't help but sound a little proud when she describes how
well the bioreactor encourages the growth of blood vessels.
It takes two types of tissues to make a blood vessel; smooth
muscle cells that ring blood vessels and endothelial cells
that line vessels length-wise. In a petri dish, it's difficult
to get tissue-engineered cells to orient themselves just right.
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Advanced Tissue Sciences