Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Scarred for Life

3D cell culture system that faithfully mimics real life scar tissue

01 November 2020

Scarred for Life

Our organs are packed with cells called fibroblasts, which spring into action to repair damaged tissue and heal wounds. But sometimes these fibroblasts become activated when they aren’t needed, forming stiff scarred patches. Known as fibrosis, this scarring turns up in lung disease, cardiovascular disease and cancer, and is implicated in nearly 45% of all deaths in developed countries. Fibrosis is currently incurable, and the limited success of treatments so far is partly due to the lack of effective laboratory tools for investigating the underlying biology and testing novel therapies. Researchers have now developed a new 3-dimensional cell culture technique for growing fibroblasts in the lab, which more accurately recapitulates the situation in living tissues. These 3-D cells (bottom row) have very different responses to a range of drugs compared with standard two-dimensional cultures (top), providing new insights into the process of fibrosis and the likely effectiveness of potential treatments.

Written by Kat Arney

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