To better exploit the principles of gas transport and mass transport during the processes of cell seeding of 3D scaffolds and in vitro culture of 3D tissue engineered constructs, the oscillatory cell culture bioreactor provides a flow of cell suspensions and culture media directly through a porous 3D scaffold (during cell seeding) and a 3D construct (during subsequent cultivation) within a highly gas-permeable closed-loop tube. This design is simple, modular, and flexible, and its component parts are easy to assemble and operate, and are inexpensive. Chamber volume can be very low, but can be easily scaled up. This innovation is well suited to work with different biological specimens, particularly with cells having high oxygen requirements and/or shear sensitivity, and different scaffold structures and dimensions.

The closed-loop changer is highly gas permeable to allow efficient gas exchange during the cell seeding/culturing process. A porous scaffold, which may be seeded with cells, is fixed by means of a scaffold holder to the chamber wall with scaffold/construct orientation with respect to the chamber determined by the geometry of the scaffold holder. A fluid, with/without biological specimens, is added to the chamber such that all, or most, of the air is displaced (i.e., with or without an enclosed air bubble). Motion

is applied to the chamber within a controlled environment (e.g., oscillatory motion within a humidified 37°C incubator). Movement of the chamber induces relative motion of the scaffold/construct with respect to the fluid. In case the fluid is a cell suspension, cells will come into contact with the scaffold and eventually adhere to it. Alternatively, cells can be seeded on scaffolds by gel entrapment prior to bioreactor cultivation.

Subsequently, the oscillatory cell culture bioreactor will provide efficient gas exchange (i.e., of oxygen and carbon dioxide, as required for viability of metabolically active cells) and controlled levels of fluid dynamic shear (i.e., as required for viability of shear-sensitive cells) to the developing engineered tissue construct.

This bioreactor was recently utilized to show independent and interactive effects of a growth factor (IGF-I) and slow bidirectional perfusion on the survival, differentiation, and contractile performance of 3D tissue engineering cardiac constructs.

The main application of this system is within the tissue engineering industry. The ideal final application is within the automated mass production of tissue-engineered constructs. Target industries could be both life sciences companies as well as bioreactor device producing companies.

This work was done by Lisa E. Freed, Mingyu Cheng, and Matteo G. Moretti of Massachusetts Institute of Technology for Johnson Space Center. For further information, contact the Johnson Technology Transfer Office at (281) 483-3809.

In accordance with Public Law 96-517, the contractor has elected to retain title to this invention. Inquiries concerning rights for its commercial use should be addressed to:

Patent Compliance Administrator
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Five Cambridge Center, Kendall Square
Room NE25-230
Cambridge, MA 021142-1493

Refer to MSC-24270-1, volume and number of this Medical Design Briefs issue, and the page number.