A fibre that glows in the dark is literally shedding light on techniques for growing tissue in the laboratory to repair to body parts. The fluorescent polymer TQ1, originally developed for use in solar cells, is spun into fibre mats that can be shaped into a support structure, or scaffold, for biological cells to grow on. Because the fibres glow, scientists can look inside the tissue with microscopes, even after implantation, to check it has formed properly and is integrating with normal tissue. Pictured are TQ1 fibres (red) supporting a culture of chicken cardiomyocytes – heart muscle cells (stained green) – in a laboratory experiment. One of the major goals of regenerative medicine is to grow human tissue from a patient’s own cells to repair or replace organs, so that the complication of rejection is avoided.
Written by Mick Warwicker
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.