What is agarose?
Agarose, a biopolymer, is extracted from certain types of red seaweed, which makes it a naturally occurring polysaccharide. It possesses benefits of excellent biocompatibility, thermo-reversible gel behavior, non-toxicity and low-cost all which make it a popular material for scientific applications (1).
This property of hydrogels like agarose can be used in:
- Cancer research to study tumor development (2)
- Drug screening (3) once colonies of cancer cells are established
- Growing cells in gel spheres, which can also facilitate cell seeding onto 3D scaffolds to form hydrogel matrices for in vitro tissue synthesis
Encapsulation of cells in agarose on the Nadia Innovate
Agarose’s spherical scaffold structure and ability to allow the diffusion of nutrients and gases make it an ideal model system for mammalian cell culture, given its many similarities to the native physiological environment of living cells (4). Single cells encapsulated in agarose can, therefore, be grown for extended periods of time within these individual three-dimensional microenvironments and used in various research including single cell experiments.
This new application note describes how living mammalian single cells were encapsulated with agarose inside droplets, and solid agarose beads were recovered.
Figure 1: The picture illustrates the co-encapsulation of two living, differentially-stained, cells in an agarose bead produced on the Dolomite Bio Nadia Innovate system (Hoechst-stained HEK cell and Calcein-stained 3T3 cell).
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- Luo R-C. and Chen C-H., “Structured Microgels through Microfluidic Assembly and their Biomedical Applications”, Soft. 2012 Dec;1;1-23
- Smith BH, Gazda LS, Conn BL, Jain K, Asina S, Levine DM, et al. Three-Dimensional Culture of Mouse Renal Carcinoma Cells in Agarose Macrobeads Selects for a Subpopulation of Cells with Cancer Stem Cell or Cancer Progenitor Properties. Cancer Res. 2011 Feb 1;71(3):716–24.
- Li Y, Kumacheva E. Hydrogel microenvironments for cancer spheroid growth and drug screening. Sci Adv. 2018 Apr 1;4(4):eaas8998.
- Joseph JS, Malindisa ST, Ntwasa M. Two-Dimensional (2D) and Three-Dimensional (3D) Cell Culturing in Drug Discovery. In: Cell Culture [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2019 Sep 19]. Available from: https://www.intechopen.com/books/cell-culture/two-dimensional-2d-and-three-dimensional-3d-cell-culturing-in-drug-discovery