Biological tissue is turned into an elastic hydrogel

Researchers have found a way of turning any biological tissue in an elastic hydrogel. Modified so the fabric can stretch and introduce them to the probes, without damaging any cells. The results published in the journal Nature Methods.

A large part of the biological tissue is stretched very bad. Typically, when a fairly small load, they begin to experience irreversible changes that damage the internal structure. However, the ability to stretch much living tissue would be very useful to researchers. Often scientists want to get more information about the processes that occur inside organs and tissues, but to get there the probes without damage very difficult.

The solution to this situation is found by scientists from Korea and the United States headed by Quanjun Chun (Kwanghun Chung), an associate Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of technology. In the framework of its project to create a three-dimensional model of the human brain researchers have developed a new method for the analysis of biological tissues. The technology is called ELAST (entangled link-augmented stretchable tissue-hydrogel). In the course of it the fabric or even a small body is placed in a solution of monomer, which is then polymerized with the film formation can increase in length up to 36 times. Thus stretching the fabric sample, you can increase the distance between the two cells and placed between the probe without damaging the cell structure. After a slow return to the original condition the thickness of the polymer will increase, and the probe will be inside the tissue. The integrity of the tissue is maintained because cells covalently associated with molecules of the polymer. These molecules hold tissue cells together, allowing them to keep their hands off each other.

As a monomer, the researchers used acrylamide. Polymers of this compound widely used for water treatment, chemical analysis and build cartilage, for example, in osteoarthritis and arthritis. Such a wide use of polyacrylamide is possible thanks to the ability to dissolve in water, forming polyanion. But the properties of polyacrylamide as most of the polymers strongly depend on the degree of polymerization. This indicator reflects the number of elementary units in one molecule of the polymer. With increasing degree of polymerization increases the length of the molecules and, consequently, their contact area with each other. Long polymer chains are intertwined in a sturdy mesh-like structure that has a high melting point, mechanical strength and elasticity compared to its low molecular weight analogues.

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