Danish biotechnology company takes a novel approach to 3D cell culturing

Bioneer is using the Dolomite Micro Droplet System to encapsulate cells in gelatin hydrogels

Flemming Jørgensen, Project Manager at Bioneer using the Micro Droplet System from Dolomite for 3D cell culture

Bioneer, a Danish biotechnology service provider, is taking advantage of the microfluidics capabilities of Dolomite’s Micro Droplet System to reliably encapsulate cells in gelatin hydrogels, enabling 3D cell culture growth in a straightforward, easy-to-handle format.

The research is part of the OPTISORT Eurostars project, in which Hørsholm, Denmark-based Bioneer and Dolomite, located in Royston, Hertfordshire, UK, are working in partnership with optical cell sorting specialist OptoRobotix to develop optically-based technologies for advanced cell sorting.

This latest technique relies on the formation of precisely controlled hydrogel droplets using Dolomite’s microfluidic chips and flow control technology.

Flemming Jørgensen, Project Manager at Bioneer, explained: 'Encapsulation of protein-producing cells inside gelatin micro droplets offers an affordable, easy to manipulate 3D cell culture technology for non-adherent cells.

This technology has potential applications for the sorting and isolation of, for example, cells with very high protein yields

'The small size of the droplets makes it easy for nutrients to diffuse into the droplets from the surrounding medium, and for cellular products to diffuse out, while providing a distinct 3D environment for cell growth.

'This technology has potential applications for the sorting and isolation of, for example, cells with very high protein yields, and we have already shown the Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cell cultures continue to grow within this gel matrix with good viability.'

Starting with a premixed cell suspension containing 6% gelatin, the Micro Droplet System is used to create droplets approximately 200μm in diameter.

The addition of a cross linker shortly before droplet production results in the formation of soft hydrogel particles containing just a few cells – or even individual cells if desired, depending on the starting concentration – which are then resuspended in fresh cell medium.

Dolomite’s microfluidics technology allows Bioneer to quickly produce large numbers of droplets for downstream analysis.