Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation

Analytical Instrumentation, Methods & Materials
Analytical Instrumentation Methods Materials
Liquid Crystalline Substrates for Culturing Cells
WARF: P05432US

Inventors: Nicholas Abbott, Juan DePablo, Sean Palecek, Nathan Lockwood, Jeffrey Mohr, Christopher Murphy, Elise Huang

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking commercial partners interested in developing a method of culturing cells, including hES cells, that offers a novel means of visualizing the cells and monitoring their developmental state.
Cells in culture are typically observed visually and subjectively by microscopy or the naked eye. Such cells are generally grown in solution or on solid supports. In the case of human embryonic stem (hES) cells, these supports are coated with Matrigel, a protein gel that acts as an extracellular matrix.
The Invention
UW-Madison researchers have developed a method of culturing cells, including hES cells, on liquid crystalline substrates to provide a new means of visualizing developmental changes that occur in the cells. A thin protein layer, such as Matrigel, is deposited on the surface of a thermotropic liquid crystal. Then cells are seeded onto the Matrigel.

As the cells grow and differentiate, they impart subtle structural changes to the protein gel layer. Because the liquid crystal layer is in direct contact with the protein layer, these changes are amplified and transduced by the liquid crystals, where they may be observed easily.

To induce changes in the cells, a stimulus may be introduced to alter the orientation of the liquid crystals. This imparts changes to the structure of the Matrigel, which in turn alters the cellular environment.
  • Visualizing cells and monitoring their developmental state
Key Benefits
  • Provides a designed, biomimetic mechanical environment that may ultimately be used to induce developmental changes in cells
  • Permits easy observation of the reorganization of the extracellular matrix of cells
  • Enables measurement of cell adhesion and the mechanical forces transmitted by cells to surfaces
  • Potentially more precise, sensitive and quantitative than current observation methods
  • Useful for many cell types, including hES cells, corneal epithelial cells and fibroblasts
  • Corneal epithelial and hES cells have been successfully grown on these substrates.
  • Crystals may be used to image the mechanical reorganization of protein gel substrates by living cells.
  • The protein layer may be incorporated into a polyelectrolyte multilayer film to deliver agents to the cultured cells at predetermined times and/or conditions.
Additional Information
For More Information About the Inventors
Related Intellectual Property
For current licensing status, please contact Jennifer Gottwald at [javascript protected email address] or 608-960-9854