24.11.2017 change 24.11.2017

Polish hydrogel will help study the behaviour of tumours

Marcin Krzykawski presents hydrogel developed by his start-up at the Falling Walls Venture in Berlin, photo by S. Zdziebłowski. Marcin Krzykawski presents hydrogel developed by his start-up at the Falling Walls Venture in Berlin, photo by S. Zdziebłowski.

The study of cancer behavior in conditions closer to natural ones will be enabled by the hydrogel developed by the start-up Real Research from the Jagiellonian Center of Innovation. Its creators took part in the Falling Walls Venture competition in Berlin on Wednesday.

LifeGel developed by scientists from Kraków is intended to improve the possibilities of testing new drugs - all because thanks to the invention cells can multiply in 3-dimiensional space. Today, the most common method is to multiply cells on a flat, two-dimensional, plastic surface.

"As a result, laboratory tests are often unreliable, because the environment in which cells grow is very different from the natural conditions - in the body of humans or animals. Meanwhile, in our hydrogel they feel like in a living organism" - told PAP one of the authors of the new solution Marcin Krzykawski. As a result, when, for example, researchers test new drugs, their research results will be more reliable.

"Our LifeGel hydrogel is potentially suitable for all research applications where the environment should be as close as possible to the natural one, but any additional application will require additional research" - he added.

As explained, this means that the hydrogel can be adapted to the cultured cells, for example a slightly different composition can be used for bone tissue culture, and another for liver cells culture. Perhaps in the future LifeGel can also be used to grow stem cells. "I can not guarantee that, but it is one of our more ambitious goals" - Krzykawski added.

Currently the Kraków start-up\'s experiments focus on the possibility of cancer cell growth in the form of tumours. In a few years scientists will be able to use the solution developed by the Kraków team to study tumours. They will learn more about the mechanisms of cancer and be able to develop appropriate drugs more quickly. "All because tumour cells cultured in the three-dimensional space will be more similar to those we see in humans" - said Krzykawski.

Krzykawski\'s priority is to adapt the hydrogel primarily for medical applications. However, it is very likely that the solution developed by his start-up can also be used to grow artificial meat.

"It would be an alternative for vegetarians, who have welfare of animals at heart but miss the taste of meat. One of the major problems is the cost of growing such meat. such a farm. Meanwhile, the large-scale cost of our product can be quite affordable" - he argued.

The widespread use of LifeGel may also lead to reducing the use of laboratory animals. "Tests on three-dimensional cell cultures will considerably reduce the necessary number of animal tests, although, due to medical procedures, this element can not be eliminated completely" - he added.

Substances similar to LifeGel are being developed in different places in the world, but this solution developed by Polish researchers is better in some respects. "This is a clean and reproducible product. Our goal is to enable the widespread use of 3D culture-based research" - added the biotechnologist.

Real Research from Jagiellonian Center of Innovation is the start-of of Marcin Krzykawski and Renata Szczelina. Both are graduates of the Faculty of Biotechnology of the Jagiellonian University. Marcin Krzykawski is currently completing his doctorate in the Department of Immunology of the Jagiellonian University Medical College. Their adventure with hydrogel started several years ago when they joined the team tasked with the development of a three-dimensional bioprint, a technology that would allow to print structures containing cells.

"Our task was to create a hydrogel - an environment for cell growth. Our invention, LifeGel gave promising results, while the printing technology itself was still developing, so we decided to go our own way" - Krzykawski concluded.

Kraków start-up is currently at the stage of preparation of patent application and search for investors. "We estimate that we can enter the market within eight months of the start of the investment" - added Krzykawski.

Real Research presented its new product on Wednesday at Falling Walls Venture, an international start-up contest where innovators gave 15-minute presentations of their ideas. (PAP)

Science in Poland

author: From Berlin Szymon Zdziebłowski

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