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First experiments with the cell gym

posted Nov 21, 2013, 10:54 AM by Sensorica Group   [ updated Nov 21, 2013, 2:14 PM by Tiberius Brastaviceanu ]
, Jonathan and Tibi are working this week with the cell gym at Montreal Heart Institute, lab of Dr. Philippe Comtois. The main goal is to test the first prototype and to learn how to produce and manipulate matrigel, which will serve as template for muscle tissue culture.

Ivan and Jonathan priming the matrigel cast.
Jonathan and Ivan inspecting the matrigel in the mold

The cell gym has multiple functions
  • cast a matrigel template for tissue culture
  • inoculate the matrigel template with myoblasts  and incubate to allow them to grow into muscle tissue
  • train - mechanical stimulation by repetitively stretching of the matrigel template containing myocytes, hence the name cell gym
The cell gym will be integrated with the Mosquito Scientific Instrument and the Piezo xyz into the Aestuarium, to allow the user to perform experiments on the artificial muscle tissue with minimal manipulation.

 Francois inspecting the cell gym.Francois playing with the Cell Gym
 The matrigel liquid mixture is injected into an acrylic mold for solidification.
 The solidification is completed in the oven at *enter number* degrees C.
matrigel goes in thenoven

At this moment we are only exploring the mechanical properties of the solid matrigel in order to fine-tune our recipe before inoculation and incubation for tissue growth.

After casting, the matrigel template is lifted from the mold by lifting the pillars and the mold is removed from the bath (see picture above). The matrigel will be inoculated, the bath will be filled with growth media and everything will go into an incubator. During the growth period the pillars will continuously stretch the sample following a specific training protocol. The incubation takes a few days.

A stepper motor was mounted on the cell gym to allow training. This motor is driven by a Pololu stepper motor driver in conjunction with a LabJack DAC card, operated with a LabView computer program (open document for more details).

 Stepper motor on the cell gym

 Video shows the pillars moving for training

We already see some problems with the design of the cell gym and Ivan is already thinking about the next iteration of this prototype. This experience also gives us ideas about the future integration of the cell gym into the Aestuarium.

Are you interested? Please contact the community to get involved in this project.